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New Laws announced on Domestic Abuse in the UK

Changes regarding domestic abuse were recently announced by the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. No woman or girl should ever feel unsafe in their home or neighbourhood, he said in response, and he is determined to putting an end to these horrible crimes. He added that in order to prevent more of these crimes from happening in the first place, prosecute more criminals, and provide more help for victims, police are prioritizing their efforts to combat violence against women and girls and toughening up the way offenders are controlled. See gov.uk.


What is domestic abuse?


Domestic abuse, often known as "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence," can be described as a pattern of behaviour used in any relationship to obtain or maintain authority and control over an intimate partner as per the United Nations. Abuse is defined as coercive, threatening, or harmful physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological behaviour toward another person. This includes any actions that terrify, intimidate, manipulate, inflict harm, humiliate, or assign guilt on another person. Anybody can experience domestic abuse, regardless of their ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can happen in a variety of situations, including ones between married, cohabiting, or dating couples. People from various socioeconomic origins and educational levels are impacted by domestic abuse.


What is the new law that has been announced?

The Prime Minister recently announced tougher measures. Domestic abusers will face tags and harsher management under new laws enacted to protect women and young girls. The new ideas are cantered on preventing domestic abuse and go further than ever before in protecting women and girls from harassment, hostility, and violence. To improve oversight of the most severe and dangerous domestic abusers, the law will be changed. For the first time, coercive or controlling behaviour and physical violence will be treated similarly. As a result, anyone receiving a sentence of one year or more in jail or a suspended sentence will automatically be under the active administration of the police, prison, and probation services. There will be a legal requirement for many agencies to cooperate in order to limit the threats posed by these serious criminals. As a result, it will be simpler to undertake a coordinated plan to safeguard the general population.


Police and the probation service will immediately begin working to guarantee that criminals sentenced to a year or longer for using coercive or controlling behaviour be added to the violent and sex offender registries going forward. They won't be able to slither through the cracks while the law is being changed because of this. In addition, abusers may be fitted with a tag, prohibited from traveling within a certain distance of a victim's home, and required to attend a behaviour change program as part of a trial of domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders in three areas of the UK.


What can you do?


Anybody at danger of or experiencing domestic violence will be able to access immediate support from one of 18 jobcentres and employment and welfare offices dispersed throughout the nation starting today (20 February) thanks to a new postcode checker that will identify the service's closest location. In 88 UK cities, towns, and villages, almost 5,000 pharmacists already take part in the Ask for ANI (Action Required Immediately) program. It's offered in conjunction with Hestia's Safe Spaces. Anyone who is experiencing or fearing domestic violence can call ANI, and they will be assisted in calling the police or specialized domestic abuse organizations while being brought to a safe, peaceful environment. The program's emergency support has been required on average once per week since its inception in 2021.


The government will also require that police departments treat violence against women and girls as a national threat, in accordance with a new strategic policing requirement released in February. Hence, combating these crimes will be just as important as combating threats like terrorism, serious and organized crime, and child sexual abuse. The National Police Chiefs' Council is also writing to each force in England and Wales to reiterate the need for officers to proactively identify the most dangerous domestic abusers in their area in order to prevent them from committing further crimes. The Home Office will assist in the development of a new risk assessment tool to aid with this. In spite of the fact that they may not have any prior convictions, this will allow police forces to rapidly identify domestic abusers who are most likely to inflict harm and stop them.


Domestic abuse is a horrific crime, according to home secretary Suella Braverman. She pledged to use all of her authority in her capacity as home secretary to halt it because it is intolerable. The broad actions announced will lead to greater surveillance of the most dangerous offenders and their inclusion on the list of violent and sex offenders. More victims will be protected from danger as a result, and police departments in England and Wales will be forced to treat violence against women and girls as a national security concern.


What are the set of measures that you will see being implemented?


· The government will change the law to automatically qualify offenders for management by the police, prison, and probation services under multi-agency public protection arrangements if they have been found guilty of using coercive or controlling behaviour and receive a sentence of 12 months or longer in prison or a suspended sentence. management of the most dangerous offenders with more rigor. As a result, law enforcement will have to cooperate in order to lessen the dangers that these risky domestic violence offenders offer. Also, these perpetrators will now be registered as violent and sex offenders.

· The Home Office and Ministry of Justice will test the new domestic abuse protection notices and orders in Gwent, Greater Manchester, and three London boroughs in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, and other criminal justice partners (Croydon, Bromley, and Sutton). The new cross-jurisdictional order will provide victims with longer-lasting protection that is more flexible. The judge will have the power to impose restrictions like electronic monitoring, attendance at perpetrator behaviour rehabilitation programs, and reporting name and address changes to the police. Any rule that is broken will be against the law.

· As part of a trial program that starts today across the UK, a trained staff person will assist domestic violence victims "Ask for ANI" in 18 jobcentres and jobs and benefit offices. The trained employee will assist the victim in finding a secure location where they may phone the police or support services, building on the success of the scheme in pharmacies around the nation. Anyone can now find the nearby participating drugstore, job centre, or jobs and benefits office using a new postcode checker.

· The new strategic policing requirement, which was just issued by the Home Secretary, for the first time categorizes violence against women and girls as a national concern and gives clear criteria for how police units are to handle this threat.

· The government will develop a new digital tool that analyses police data to detect those who are at risk of committing crimes involving domestic abuse before they are found guilty. Police in England and Wales reported 910,980 domestic abuse-related offenses in the year ending March 2022, but only 40,647 of those incidents resulted in convictions. The tool will also cover offenders who have not been found guilty.

· Clare's Law is strengthened by new guidance that reduces the amount of time that police must keep a person's violent or abusive behaviour secret through the Clare's Law program, making it simpler to learn about a partner's, ex- partners, or abusive prior behaviour. Beginning next month, the suggestions will become statutory (March 2023).

· Up to £8.4 million will be given to initiatives run by specialized organizations over a two-year period beginning on April 1, 2023, in order to provide personalised, trauma-informed care.

· Investing in perpetrator interventions: During the next two years, police and crime commissioners (PCCs) may receive up to £36 million for behaviour-specific interventions focused on confronting perpetrators who commit abuse, bringing the total funding for these projects to more than £70 million since 2020.


In April 2021, the historic Domestic Abuse Act revised its definition of domestic abuse to reflect the fact that it encompasses a range of abusive behaviours. The term "criminal abuse" now refers to behaviours that are coercive or controlling toward others, whether they are physical, sexual, aggressive or threatening, psychologically or emotionally abusive. The Act for the first time identified children as victims of domestic abuse and recognized economic abuse as a form of the crime. It established a legal requirement on local governments to support victims, survivors, and their children in safe housing with funds totalling £125 million. It also created new offenses of non-fatal strangulation and threats to divulge personal images.


Combating violence against women and girls (VAWG) is still a top priority for the government, and we are doing everything we can to make it safer for women and girls to walk down the street. Our strategy for addressing VAWG focuses on prevention, aiding survivors, and intensifying the search for offenders. This includes provisions in the Online Safety Bill that will strengthen the law regarding the sending and sharing of intimate images without permission, as well as a promise to introduce a package of new offenses to deal with the taking and sharing of these disgusting images, including down blousing, as soon as Parliamentary time permits. Under the Protection against Sex-Based Harassment in Public Law, the maximum sentence increases from six months to two years for anyone who wilfully harasses, scares, or distresses someone in a public place because of the victim's sex.


What is the Government doing now?


The government's broader initiatives to eradicate domestic abuse are strengthened by the announcements. With the release of the domestic violence action plan, the government has:


· doubled funding for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which receives an average of 15,000 calls every three months, bringing the total amount of funding for all national VAWG helplines to over £2 million yearly.

· launched a new public relations campaign called "Enough" to alter social perceptions of domestic violence and violence against women and girls, as well as to promote bystander intervention and long-term preventative measures. The campaign outlines the different methods we can all take to confront abusers using online content at enough.campaign.gov.uk, radio and television commercials, billboard signage, social media posts, and billboards.

· for the first time, dedicated over £79 million since 2020 for research on and interventions for domestic violence perpetrators, including up to £36 million over the following two years for interventions.

· the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has been updated with new measures that will give victims of domestic abuse greater time to call the police and stop abusers from eluding punishment.

· the government has pledged to quadruple funding for victim and witness support services by 2024/25, up from £41m in 2009/10, by increasing the number of independent sexual and domestic abuse advisors by 300 to over 1,000 over the following three years.


How to Request for ANI?


Victims can use a postcode checker on gov.uk/ask-for-ani to locate the nearest Ask for ANI location, such as a pharmacy, job centre, or jobs and benefits office. Pharmacies can access training materials and further Ask for ANI information. Information regarding the resources offered to victims of domestic violence and other VAWG abuses is readily available. Hestia's Safe Spaces, a quiet, safe location where victims can reflect, learn about specialist assistance services, or call friends and family, provides Ask for ANI. Safe Spaces are accessible anywhere Ask for ANI is made possible.


Support for domestic violence is already available in work centres under the DWP:


· the DWP helps victims of domestic violence submit benefit applications through a number of initiatives. On request, split payments are made available, benefit limitations are loosened, people are pointed in the direction of local services, special accommodations are made for temporary lodging, and they are given information about qualified third-party help.

· as of 2017, the DWP has mandated that all employees complete training on how to identify domestic violence, offer support to those who are being assaulted, and ascertain whether the abuse has been reported to the police or social services.

· Every client is questioned about whether they have ever personally suffered domestic abuse, have seen it, or whether they think that making a claim could put them in danger. They will subsequently be pointed in the direction of victim support programs and the Forced Marriage Unit by the staff. If they are in urgent danger, the jobcentre staff will dial 911.


The Ask for ANI scheme is being rolled out in the following jobcentres and jobs and benefit offices:

1. Ellesmere Port

2. Warrington

3. Crewe

4. Blackburn

5. Preston

6. Carlisle

7. Birkenhead

8. St Helens

9. Merthyr Tydfil

10. Barry

11. Newport Charles Street

12. Arbroath

13. Peterhead

14. Dunfermline

15. Armagh

16. Andersonstown

17. Larne

18. Lisnagelvin


Wishing all women out there a Happy Women's Day.

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