The government has published a response to its consultation on domestic abuse, which includes details on the forthcoming Draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
In a welcome step, the Draft Bill will include measures to prohibit the cross-examination of alleged domestic abuse victims by their alleged abusers in the family courts, a measure that has long been called for by the MA. The document also sets out the government's intentions to provide automatic eligibility for special measures for victims when giving evidence in the criminal courts, alongside commitments to improve the criminal court environment for victims more generally – with an initial focus on increasing the number of privacy screens available. Other notable proposals include the introduction of a new statutory definition of domestic abuse (which will include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse); a series of measures that seek to improve confidence in the quality of domestic abuse perpetrator programmes; and the introduction of new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which seek to strengthen the protections available to victims.
The response was published alongside a Home Office report into the economic and social cost of domestic abuse, which estimates that the cost for victims in England and Wales was £66 billion for the year ending March 2017.
The MA has produced an initial position statement on the consultation response and Draft Bill.