Domestic abusers could be electronically tagged under new Government proposals
Domestic abusers could be banned from drinking alcohol and electronically tagged under a Government crackdown.
New civil orders will expand the potential restrictions courts and police can impose on criminals who torment partners, spouses and other family members.
Perpetrators could be required to attend parenting programmes or drug and alcohol treatment to reduce the risk of them carrying out further abuse.
For the first time courts will be given express powers to impose electronic monitoring as a condition of the proposed Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPOs).
A Government consultation on the plans, to be published on Thursday, says tagging could be used as part of a perpetrator’s compliance with conditions such as an exclusion zone, or a prohibition on drinking alcohol.
The measure would also enable the monitoring of the subject’s location to establish behaviour patterns or provide evidence of someone’s movements, which in turn could help prevent stalking or intimidation, according to the document.
It says electronic monitoring will only be used where it is proportionate and necessary to prevent further abuse.
DAPOs would bring together the strongest elements from existing protective orders, while giving courts the power to set a wider range of restrictions and for longer periods than the current 28 days.
The proposed orders could be imposed at the outset of a case, when abuse is suspected but before the subject has been found guilty of any crime.
Courts could issue an order during any ongoing proceedings, including on conviction or acquittal in any criminal proceedings, the consultation says.
Breaching any conditions attached to an order would be a criminal offence.
The details emerged as the Government launched a consultation to set out a host of proposed measures to be included in a draft Domestic Abuse Bill.
It will also introduce a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, which includes a reference to “economic” abuse for the first time.
The existing definition recognises financial abuse but the consultation says this can be “restrictive” in circumstances where victims are denied access to basic resources such as food, clothing and transportation.
Cases where abusers force victims to take out loans could also fall under the economic strand.
Other measures being weighed up for inclusion in the new Bill include:
- The creation in law of an independent domestic abuse commissioner
- Tougher sentences for domestic abuse that affects children
- Enshrining in legislation the scheme known as Clare’s Law, under which police can disclose information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner
- Giving domestic abuse victims the same status in court as those who have suffered modern slavery or sex offences.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the proposals have the potential to “completely transform the way we tackle domestic abuse”.
She said: “Domestic abuse takes many forms, from physical and sexual abuse, to controlling and coercive behaviour that isolates victims from their families and has long-term, shattering impacts on their children.”
An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last 12 months, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales for the year ending March 2017.
Figures also show 82 women and 13 men were killed by a partner or former partner in 2016/17.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “It is appalling that in 21st-century Britain, nearly two million people every year – the majority of them women – suffer abuse at the hands of those closest to them.
“Through this Bill I want to fundamentally change the way we as a country think about domestic abuse, recognising that it is a crime that comes in many forms – physical, emotional, economic.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “The damage caused by domestic abuse can last a lifetime. We have a duty not only to support those affected but to prevent others falling victim in future.”
Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, welcomed the consultation.
She added: “We want to see the Bill encompass and go beyond changes to the criminal justice system to include policies on housing, education, health, immigration and the welfare system to name but a few, to ensure that every survivor and her child can safely escape domestic abuse.”
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