Prime Minister promises new domestic violence legislation

By Neil Puffett

| 13 September 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to resurrect a bill to improve the way domestic abuse is tackled after landmark legislation on the issue was dropped following the suspension of parliament.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to introduce legislation to tackle domestic abuse. Picture: Number 10

A draft Domestic Abuse Bill, published by government on 21 January 2019, included proposals to introduce the first statutory definition of domestic abuse, new legal protections for victims and a range of measures to support women and children.

However, the bill was dropped following the proroguing of parliament earlier this week. Amid concern among charities, Johnson has pledged to reintroduce the legislation in the Queen's Speech, when parliament returns on 14 October.

Research suggests up to 800,000 children live in homes where domestic abuse occurs, with some being emotionally damaged by the experience.

Johnson tweeted that the government is "fully committed to tackling the issue".

Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: "If the Prime Minister hadn't committed to including it in the Queen's Speech, the bill and all the hard work that's gone into it - including from survivors - might have been lost.

"It's right and welcome that the prime minister has now promised to include the bill in the Queen's Speech but the bill must be prioritised and its measures implemented without more delay. 

"We and other charities, along with survivors, have worked closely for nearly two years with officials and ministers to strengthen the bill, it's now time for the government to deliver.

"Whilst it's great news the bill hasn't been forgotten, we need to keep up pressure."

Hussain said the hope is that the bill will pass into law as soon as possible - but warned that if there is a general election this year, the next parliamentary session could be a matter of just a few days, which would make this impossible.

Ofsted has previously warned that "far too little" is currently being done to prevent domestic abuse in the first place, and to repair the damage it causes afterwards.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said that the Sentencing Bill, which includes elements relating to youth justice, will be reintroduced in the next parliamentary session after a "carry-on motion" was passed in the House of Lords last week.

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