Home Office irks NSPCC with domestic violence legal clause

NSPCC has denied Home Office claims that it recommended the
controversial familial homicide clause to be inserted in the
Domestic Violence, Crime and Disorder Bill, writies
Shirley Kumar

The clause – which has angered domestic violence charities
– implies teenagers as young as 16 could be found guilty of
causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult if
they “ought to have foreseen” the risk, even if they
are not directly responsible for that person.

A Home Office spokesperson said, “Sixteen is the age at which
the Children and Young Person’s Act says you can be
responsible for a child. It is the age at which recent
carer’s legislation enables you to be the carer of a
vulnerable adult. We have followed the NSPCC and Law Commission
recommendations in this respect.”

NSPCC public policy lawyer Barbara Esam said that although the
charity had recommended the age of responsibility should be 16
years in relation to the clause, it wanted the Home Office to
redefine the clause to ensure it was only applicable to carers or
parents. It also should include serious injury such as brain
damage, the NSPCC said.

“It’s very cheeky of the Home Office to suggest we
recommended the clause as it is. They have even tagged on
vulnerable persons which we certainly did not recommend,”
said Esam. “We have argued with them on so many occasions but
they will not listen to us. There is a danger innocent people will
be wrongly judged.”

Charities including Refuge and Women’s Aid want the
Government to reconsider the clause stating the age is too low and
say it would be almost impossible for a court to rule that an
individual “ought to have foreseen the risk” beyond reasonable

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