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Domestic Abuse Bill to be re-introduced in next Queen’s Speech

Number of people killed in domestic violence incidents in UK at highest level in five years

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the Government will re-introduce the Domestic Abuse Bill in the Queen's Speech on 14 October 2019.

He tweeted:

"Domestic abuse shatters lives & tears families apart. We are fully committed to tackling this horrific crime – which is why the Queen's Speech will confirm we will be reintroducing domestic abuse legislation in the next session."

Since no carry-over motion was passed in Parliament prior to prorogation, the Bill failed as a consequence of the prorogation. On 5 September 2019, various charities, including Women's Aid, wrote to the Prime Minister seeking assurance that the Domestic Abuse Bill would not be dropped.

The Prime Minister's announcement coincided with news that the number of people killed as a result of domestic violence in the UK is at its highest level in five years. The BBC reported that an FOI request to 43 police forces had revealed that last year, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides. This is an increase of 32 deaths on 2017. On 12 September the Crown Prosecution Service reported that there had been a 15.1 per cent fall in prosecutions and a 14.3 per cent drop in convictions across the domestic abuse, rape, and sexual offences caseload.

Responding to the news, Hetty Gleave, partner in the Family Department at Hunters, commented:

"News today that domestic violence murders are at the highest level for five years indicates the scale of violence in relationships. Those who work with families are well aware that violence is more than just physical, but includes coercion, as well as oppressive and controlling behaviour. It is therefore welcome news that a new domestic abuse bill will be pursued during the next parliament and will provide a statutory definition of domestic violence, hopefully to include non-physical abuse. Cross-examination by convicted perpetrators of violence of their victims can often perpetuate the abuse and undermine their evidence. The common use of screens in court to shield victims from their abusers when giving evidence is often inadequate when words alone can inflict as much pain as physical violence. It is therefore encouraging that the legislation aims to prevent this."

For the Domestic Abuse Bill, as introduced to Parliament, click here. For the BBC report, click here.