The Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO)
The Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) is a significant legal measure introduced by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 in the United Kingdom. The pilot of the new DAPO is due to start in the New Year in Gwent, Greater Manchester and three of the London boroughs – Croydon, Bromley and Sutton.
What is the purpose of a DAPO?
The purpose of a DAPO is to provide immediate and long-term protection for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It will offer more comprehensive safeguards than current orders contain, thus better protecting victims and survivors.
How will it work?
There are two components that make up the DAPO. The first is a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN). This is a civil notice issued by the police immediately after an incident of domestic abuse and it requires the perpetrator to stay away from the victim’s home for 48 hours.
The Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) is a flexible, long-term order that provides ongoing protection. This can be recognized and applied for in both the criminal and the civil court.
Breach of a DAPO will be a criminal offence and will carry a maximum of up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.
DAPO’s will protect victims from all forms of domestic abuse, including non physical abuse and coercive controlling behaviour. They can have various clauses e.g. staying away from a victim’s home, not contacting the victim in any way including via social media and could also include positive requirements such as attending behaviour change programmes. The court will also be able to use electronic tagging in order to monitor compliance of the DAPO.
Who can apply for a DAPO?
Anyone can apply! The Police can apply to the magistrate’s court for a DAPO. Victims and survivors can also apply directly to the family court. The Courts can also apply for DAPO’s as part of existing proceedings, even if they are not related to domestic abuse.
Although it may be quite some time before the new DAPO’s are rolled out across England and Wales, and as with every new piece of legislation or law, there will no doubt be some teething problems, it is hoped that they will eventually enhance protection, hold perpetrators to account and empower victims and survivors which will contribute to a safer environment for those people affected by domestic abuse and violence.