Safeguarding Network announced with thanks to the survivors, charities, government officials and parliamentarians, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has received Royal Assent.
It announces further protections for the millions of people who experience domestic abuse and will transform our response to tackling domestic abuse just when change is most needed.
There is now a broader legal definition of domestic abuse which includes a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse. There will be new support for victims including better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation, such as giving evidence via video-link and no longer permitting alleged abusers to cross-examine their victims in court.
The police will hold new powers, including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices which will provide victims with immediate protection from abusers and courts will be able to work to prevent domestic abuse by forcing perpetrators to seek mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. The new offence of non-fatal strangulation will further extend the law and so will an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images. Also, the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour has been extended to cover post-separation abuse.
There will now be a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other accommodation and to be given automatic priority for homelessness assistance.