The government has announced plans to introduce new domestic violence legislation.
In the much heralded Queen’s Speech today, the government announced a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill that would, they claimed “protect the victims“.
In an explanatory briefing, the purpose of this new legislation is described as transforming:
“…our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser.”
Its measures would include the establishment of a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner; a clear definition of domestic abuse in law; and sentences that reflect “the devastating life-long impact that abuse can have on the child.”
In addition, a new Courts Bill would introduce a measure which has been on the government’s agenda since January: ending the current ability of people who have been accused of domestic violence but who have no lawyer from cross-examining their accusers in family court.
The government describe the proposed measure as ending:
“…direct cross examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged perpetrators in the family courts and allow[ing] more victims to participate in trials without having to meet their alleged assailant face-to-face”
However, the briefing fails to explain how it would be established that the individuals accusing others of domestic violence were “victims” before their allegations had been proven.
Read more here.