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Ministry of Justice proposes amendments to Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill with aim of keeping women safer

On 04 January 2022 the Ministry of Justice announced further measures to be added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill with the specific target of keeping women and girls safer.

One such proposal is increasing the time for victims of domestic abuse to report incidents of common assault or battery against them. Currently, any prosecution must commence within six months of the offence occurring. The proposal is that this would change to any prosecution having to commence within six months of the date the incident is formally reported to the police, with an overall time limit of two years from the date of the offence to bring a prosecution.

Further proposals include:

• The taking of non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers becoming a specific offence punishable by up to two years in prison

• Ending the halfway release of offenders sentenced to between four and seven years in prison for serious sexual offences. This would force offenders to spend two-thirds of their sentence in prison.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said:

"I strongly welcome the additions made to the PCSC Bill today, which allow victims of domestic abuse more time to report to the police.

It is important that all domestic abuse victims have the time and opportunity to report to the police. This is especially important following Covid restrictions, when many victims faced additional challenges to seeking help and reporting domestic abuse.

I want to see increased prosecutions for domestic abuse, and hope to see that as these measures remove another barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice."

For further information as to the government's proposed amendments, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers