The Home Secretary is in consultation with ministers to create a crime of domestic abuse, making the process of convicting perpetrators significantly quicker and easier, reports the BBC.
No specific crime of domestic abuse is currently recognised under UK law, however action against abusers can be sought through other areas of the law, those relating to coercive or controlling behaviour, assault and harassment, for example. Yet despite the routes for bringing perpetrators to justice, there is no straightforward or swift option for victims.
Theresa May proposes that domestic violence be made an offence, not only making it easier for victims to bring their abusers to justice, but also for police to be clear upon how and when they can intervene since the appropriate action in many situations currently remains ambiguous. She has requested that chief constables create a plan of action for improving police performance on cases of domestic abuse by next month.
‘Last year ministers redefined domestic abuse, telling forces and other criminal justice agencies that it included both violence and acts of psychological control that left victims in terror’, reports the BBC.
Fundamental to creating a crime of domestic abuse would be the recognition of the above definition of such abuse within intimate or familial relationships. The BBC observes, ‘the offence could cover not just acts of violence but incidents of psychological control which cut off victims from friends and family, or deny them money or other means to live freely’.
Showing her support for the proposed new crime, Women’s Aid charity worker Polly Neate delighted in the significant step forward demonstrated by this consultation amongst ministers and chief constables.
Between September 2012 and September 2013 there were over 269,700 domestic abuse-related crimes reported and a colossal one million calls made to the police.
Creating a crime of such abuse would go a long way to answering the criticism received in response to police failing to act in a number of cases as a direct result of unclear laws and regulations on the subject.
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