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MA responds to the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

Parliament scrutinises the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

23 May 2019
MA responds to the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

The MA has submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, outlining our priorities with regard to some of the Bill's key measures.

We took the opportunity to provide feedback on the Bill's new statutory definition, highlighting in particular that the definition may not cater for someone over the age of 16 who is abused by an individual living in a household who is not their parent and does not have parental responsibility, which we felt may be an unintended gap. Our response also reiterated our concerns around the decision to proceed with the creation of a new Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO). While acknowledging that many of the individual components of the DAPO are welcome, we emphasised that very clear guidance will be required to ensure that the orders are used proportionately and without setting up perpetrators to fail.

We welcomed the Bill's proposals to prohibit the cross-examination of alleged domestic abuse victims by their alleged abusers in the family courts, but highlighted some concerns with how the prohibitions may work in practice. Notably, we made the point that the scheme for the court to appoint a legal representative to cross-examine on the behalf of parties seems to be closely based on the equivalent framework used in criminal courts, yet the structure of family proceedings differs significantly.

Finally, in response to a specific query from the committee, we provided and Addendum document on the issue of the interaction between different domestic abuse perpetrator programmes (DAPP) ordered in different jurisdictions. We made the point that generally there is very little interaction between the adult criminal court and family court in relation to specific cases, and highlighted the different approaches that are often taken around perpetrator programmes in the two courts – particularly in terms of the accreditation of programmes and the ways in which success is evaluated.

The Joint Committee is expected to report its findings in June.

Our initial response can be found here and the Addendum here.

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