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New Bill pilot scheme to boost domestic violence orders

A pilot scheme is set to be launched to trial new protection orders aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.

Police dealing with domestic violence cases will be able to apply to courts for an offender to undergo treatment or behavioural change programmes as part of new government legislation.

The Domestic Abuse Bill has been brought back by the government with plans including the new orders. The court costs involved will be funded by a pilot scheme to encourage officers to make use of them.

Other measures include formalising guidance into legislation enabling police to disclose to a member of the public if their partner has a previous history of domestic violence.

The use of technology, including Smart household appliances is also covered. Economic abuse, which limits access to a victim’s fundamental economic resources such as money, food, transport, clothing, utilities, employment and housing, will also be specifically referenced.

It will also for the first time set a legal definition of domestic abuse and place a legal duty on local authorities to provide safe accommodation for victims.

Abusers will also be prohibited from cross-examining victims in the family courts.

The Bill, which was halted by the general election, is aimed at improving outcomes for victims and convictions of offenders.

According to government figures, there are around 2.4m incidents of domestic violence every year but in 2018 just under 600,000 were reported and of those 76% resulted in convictions.

The ONS explained: “The majority of cases do not come to the attention of the police, and many of those that do, do not result in a conviction for the perpetrator of the abuse.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “This Bill will bolster our response to domestic abuse on every level – strengthening protections for victims, whilst ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law.

“From giving courts greater powers through new prevention orders, to barring abusers from cross-examining their victim in the family courts, we are delivering a justice system more resilient than ever to the tackle this horrific crime.”

Charities welcomed the new legislation which will now begin its passage through Parliament but warned it would need significant funding in order to be effective.

Adina Claire, Acting co-CEO of Women's Aid, said: “With the number of women killed by men at a fourteen-year high, the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill to parliament is welcome. Crucially, the legal duty on local authorities could be life-saving, and we will continue to call on the government to deliver a secure funding future for specialist women's services to support this new legal duty.”

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