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Government announces draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill

Queen’s Speech includes draft legislation to transform approach to domestic violence

In the Queen's Speech, delivered today, the Government has committed to bringing forward legislation "to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse".

Briefing notes produced by the Government on the announcements in the Queen's Speech state that the purpose of the Bill is to "transform 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."

The main benefits of the Bill are said to be:

The main elements of the Bill will be:

The Bill's substantive provisions would apply to England and Wales only. The functions of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner in relation to Wales are to be determined in consultation with the Welsh Government.

The briefing notes that:

Anticipating the announcement, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, said:

"An improved response to domestic violence is not all about the criminal justice system, and all parties need to look beyond this.  If the Commissioner is truly independent and has the power to hold all agencies at local level to account, however, this could be a very positive way forward.  One of the most frightening obstacles survivors of domestic violence face is the sheer ignorance of local public services, like councils, the health service and others, and their unwillingness to treat domestic violence as the crisis it really is. At the moment, local services are being decimated and both early intervention and long-term support are virtually non-existent. A new Domestic Violence Bill will also be welcomed if it ensures an end to a situation where women and children too often must flee for their lives while perpetrators walk free and continue attempts at coercive control through the family courts."

For the text of the Queen's Speech, click here. For the briefing note, click here. For coverage of the Queen's Speech by BBC News, click here.

The House of Commons Library has published a bibliography for further reading on domestic violence. To access it, click here.

21/6/17 (supplemented 23/6/17)