UK government announces new measures to crackdown on domestic abuse
Violence against women and girls to be treated as a national threat
The UK government announced on 20 February a set of new proposals to combat domestic abuse, which includes immediate changes requiring the police and the probation service to place the most dangerous offenders, who are sentenced to a year or more for controlling and coercive behaviour, on the violent and sex offender register.
The announcement coincides with the release, by the Home Office, of the UK’s new Strategic Policing Requirement 2023, which includes the obligation that police forces treat violence against women and girls as a national threat. The inclusion, for the first time, of violence against women and girls as a national threat sets out the expectations for local and regional police capabilities to tackle violence against women and girls; and guidance on how local forces work with others, including collaborating with other agencies.
The specific legal changes to be made will include placing controlling or coercive behaviour on a par with physical violence, so that offenders sentenced to a year or more imprisonment or a suspended sentence will automatically be actively managed by the police, prison and probation services under multi-agency public protection arrangements.
The government has also announced the trial of certain measures related to domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders in specific areas of the UK. The pilot, to take place in Gwent, Greater Manchester and three London boroughs, will include offenders potentially being fitted with an electronic tag, prevented from going within a certain distance of a specific residence, being required to notify the police of name and address changes, and made to attend a perpetrator behaviour change programme.
The Home Office will also assist in the development a new digital tool to help police forces identify dangerous perpetrators of domestic abuse before they have been convicted, which will make use of police data to identify individuals who are high risk and likely to commit offences. According to government statistics, in the year ending March 2022 there were 910,980 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, compared to 40,647 convictions.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, said “Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime which can make people’s lives a living hell and we will do whatever we can to bring these offenders to justice. This new plan will crack down on those carrying out this abuse with tougher monitoring of offenders, including electronic tagging, while investing millions more in specialist support services for the most vulnerable.”