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February 27, 2023

Tougher management of most dangerous abusers – will the new laws work??

On the 20th February 2023, the Home Office announced that new measures were being introduced for tougher management of the most dangerous abusers and also new protection for victims of domestic abuse. These new measures form part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. In case, you weren’t aware of these new measures, here is a summary of what they are:

  1. Tougher management of the most dangerous domestic abuse offenders. The government will change the law to make sure that any offender who has a conviction for controlling or coercive behaviour and who have been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment or a suspended sentence will automatically be managed by the police, prison and probation services under MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).
  2. New civil protection orders. The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice will be piloting new domestic abuse protection notices, and orders in Gwent, Greater Manchester, and three London boroughs covered by the Metropolitan Police , British transport Police, and other criminal justice systems. The three boroughs will be Croydon, Bromley and Sutton.
  3. The Ask for Ani codeword scheme pilot, which will build on the existing scheme in pharmacies throughout the UK. Domestic abuse victims/survivors will be able to ‘Ask for Ani’ in 18 jobcentre and jobs and benefit offices and receive trained support from a trained staff member.
  4. Violence against women and girls will be added to the strategic policing requirement, which will categorise violence against women and girls as a national threat .
  5. Identifying dangerous perpetrators before conviction using a new digital tool which will be used by front line police officers to help them to identify who may be a high risk offender and likely to carry out domestic abuse offences.
  6. Strengthening Claire’s Law. Reduced timeframes which will make it quicker to access information on a partner’s or ex partner’s previous abusive or violent offending. The guidance for this will also be placed on a statutory footing from April 1st 2023.
  7. More funding for victim support programmes from 1st April 2023.
  8. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to be given up to £36 million over the next two years for tackling perpetrators through intervention such as Perpetrator Programmes which address abuser’s behaviour.

This is all great isn’t it? Or is it? I was going to go through all the new measures and tell you what I personally think of them, whether I think they will work and if not, why not. But that would make for a very long blog. So I will tell you what I think of it generally! and it really comes down to this………

We know that 80% of domestic abuse incidents go unreported to anyone so the police will only ever catch up to 20% of perpetrators and these will not all have been convicted or received sentences of 12 months imprisonment or a suspended sentence. Moreover, of the 20% of incidents that are reported, not all will be reported to Police.

I have had sight of the new risk assessment tool which will be used by front line officers to identify who may be a high risk offender and likely to carry out domestic abuse offences. It is good. It focuses far more on coercive and controlling behaviour and should simplify the risk assessment for front line officers who do not necessarily have the expertise of a more specialist officer in matters in relation to domestic abuse. BUT – as above, we know that 80% of incidents are not reported so high risk offenders are still likely to go under the radar!

The new civil protection orders will rely heavily on the police to administer, manage and implement. This will involve copious amounts of paperwork and admin for police to complete, when the Police service is already stretched and police officers are struggling to keep up with demand and forces are reported as being under resourced.

Don’t get me wrong. I think any changes, new measures, legislation etc, should be welcomed with open arms. And all of these measures, on paper, look great at tackling domestic abuse and violence against women an girls in general. But in reality, on the ground level, these things often don’t work. And they don’t work because up to 80% of incidents are not reported!

There is no easy fix for this but perhaps more funding should be given to the education of children on unhealthy relationships. Perhaps it should be given to fund more specialist training of police officers and the judicial system in matters relating to domestic abuse. Perhaps more work and funding are needed to encourage victim/survivors to report these crimes. To give victim/survivors the reassurance and trust they are currently lacking in the judicial system and the police.

Because for all the work going into these new laws, nothing will change if we can’t find a way to encourage victim/survivors to trust the system in the first place and report the crime!!

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  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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