- Summary of Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act
"On 1 December 2003, the Government published a Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill which aims to increase the rights of victims and witnesses, ensuring they receive the help, support and protection they need. This builds on the Governments ongoing reform of the Criminal Justice System, rebalancing the process in favor of victims and witnesses."
Source: Crime Reduction website
On 15 November 2004 , the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill received Royal Assent.
Key provisions in the Act include:
- Making common assault an arrestable offence.
- Significant new police powers to deal with domestic violence including making it an arrestable, criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order , punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Strengthening the civil law on domestic violence to ensure cohabiting same-sex couples have the same access to non-molestation and occupation orders as opposite sex couples, and extending the availability of these orders to couples who have never lived together or been married.
- Stronger legal protection for victims of domestic violence by enabling courts to impose restraining orders when sentencing for any offence . Until now, such orders could only be imposed on offenders convicted of harassment or causing fear of violence.
- Enabling courts to impose restraining orders on acquittal for any offence (or if a conviction has been overturned on appeal) if they consider it necessary to protect the victim from harassment . This will deal with cases where the conviction has failed but it is still clear from the evidence that the victims need protecting.
- Putting in place a system to review domestic violence homicide incidents, drawing in the key agencies, to find out what can be done to put the system right and prevent future deaths.
- Providing a code of practice , binding on all criminal justice agencies, so that all victims receive the support, protection, information and advice they need.
- Allowing victims to take their case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman if they feel the code has not been adhered to by the criminal justice agencies.
- Setting up an independent Commissioner for Victims to give victims a powerful voice at the heart of Government and to safeguard and promote the interests of victims and witnesses, encouraging the spread of good practice and reviewing the statutory code.
- Giving victims of mentally disordered offenders the same rights to information as other victims of serious violent and sexual offences.
- Giving the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority the right to recover from offenders the money it has paid to their victims in compensation.
- A surcharge to be payable on criminal convictions and fixed penalty notices which will contribute to the Victims Fund. For motoring offenders the surcharge will only apply to serious and persistent offenders.
- Closing a legal loophole by creating a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult . The offence establishes a new criminal responsibility for members of a household where they know that a child or vulnerable adult is at significant risk of serious harm.
- Bringing in the Law Commission recommendation for a two stage court trial to ensure that high volume crimes like fraud and internet child pornography can be punished in full.
Source: Home Office
Just because someone does not look like a "typical victim" does not mean he or she is not suffering from domestic abuse. Domestic violence can happen to anyone.