Nick Clegg has just announced plans for the government to widen the Home Office definition of “domestic violence” to include verbal abuse and controlling behaviour, as well as teenage victims. The change will be put in place by March 2013. It means that acts such as preventing partners from leaving the house or having access to a telephone could lead to a prosecution.
It is the practical effect of the change which is being emphasised by the government. However, charities and campaigners are concerned there is little point in changing the definition of domestic violence without the funding to support it. The government’s response is that monies have been ring-fenced for this purpose.
Provided there is funding in place, this change should see the development and implementation of new procedures, together with training for police officers in dealing with such cases, which sadly are becoming increasingly common. It should also help to raise awareness of the extent of domestic violence and enable effective prevention.
One point at which there is already known to be a greater risk of domestic violence is when a relationship breaks down. Under our current law, as well as the powers available to the police, there is a legal framework in place for you to obtain an order from the court preventing further abuse and excluding the perpetrator from your home. It can also provide a breathing space for you to recover and make decisions about your future.
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