Plans to improve protection for domestic violence victims

New proposals to help more women and children subject to
domestic violence to stay safely in their own homes have been
published by the government.

The consultation paper “Safety and justice” proposes
that police are given powers to arrest perpetrators of domestic
violence as soon as an attack has taken place.

By making common assault an arrestable offence, the government
would enable police to remove someone who had assaulted their
partner from the home immediately.

The consultation also proposes to strengthen the protection of
people threatened with domestic violence by making it a criminal
offence to breach a civil order such as a non-molestation order,
and to extend the use of restraining orders so that they will be
available to courts in a wider range of  situations.

Under the consultation, which will last 12 weeks,  the
government is seeking views on other ways to help the victims of
domestic violence to stay in their homes instead of having to flee
to temporary accommodation. Re-housing perpetrators is one option
being considered.

The government is also seeking views on whether a register of
domestic violence offenders, similar to the register of sex
offenders, should be established.

The report identifies a need to change public attitudes –
especially young people’s attitudes. Research suggests that
one in five young men and one in ten young women think violence
towards a partner is acceptable in some situations. Several
projects aiming to change young people’s attitudes to
domestic violence have been funded by the crime reduction programme
and are now being evaluated.

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced in the Commons when he
was launching the consultation document that a place of safety
would be made available for asylum seekers and others with
uncertain immigration status who are victims of domestic violence.
Currently they cannot access refuges or other temporary
accommodation because they have no right to benefits and are not
eligible for public housing.

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