Changes to the Domestic Abuse Act 2021Helen Jackson
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 29th April. Some of its provisions come into effect immediately, but most are expected to come into effect with detailed Regulations later this year.
So what changes can we expect to see?
In brief, the legislation aims to promote awareness of domestic abuse to better protect and support victims, not only from further abuse, but to enable them to participate safely and without intimidation in Criminal and Family Proceedings.
The Act recognises that domestic abuse includes not only physical or sexual assault, but threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, financial and emotional abuse. It also recognises that child witnesses are also victims of that abuse.
A new criminal offence of Non-Fatal Strangulation or Suffocation is created and the existing offence of disclosing private intimate photographs (known as “revenge porn”) is extended to cover the threat of disclosing the photographs as well.
Homeless victims of domestic abuse will automatically have priority need for housing and GP’s must provide victims of domestic abuse with the letter to support their Application for Legal Aid funding without charge.
The Police are given additional powers to be able to issue a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN) where a Senior Officer has reasonable grounds to believe abuse has taken place. Victims will be able to apply to Court for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO), which will last longer than traditional Injunctions.
A DAPO will be broader in scope than a conventional Injunction. In addition to protecting the victim from further incidents of abuse or harassment, provisions can be made for electronic monitoring and specific obligations put on the perpetrator to address behavioural or addiction issues.
In Court Proceedings the perpetrator will not be allowed to cross-examine their victim and Local Authorities publish their plans to provide additional support to victims of domestic abuse.
We welcome the government’s commitment to tackling domestic abuse. As a specialist Family Law team, we can assist in dealing with abuse and bringing your relationship to an end, offering support through emergency court proceedings, seeking a non-molestation order and / or an occupation order. We can also assist you through divorce proceedings and resolution of finances following the end of your relationship, together with sorting arrangements for your children.
Should you wish to discuss any topics mentioned in this article, please contact us via telephone on 01782 956123 or through our online contact form so that an appointment can be set up with one of specialist family solicitors.