Domestic Abuse Act 2021
Following four long years since the Queens Speech in 2017, the domestic abuse bill finally became
law on 30th April 2021.
Campaigning by survivors and activists, Women’s Aid was instrumental in securing many vital changes to the Act – it now goes beyond criminal justice reforms alone, to cover the family courts, housing, and health.
These are the key changes the new Act will deliver:
A legal definition of domestic abuse which recognises children as victims in their own right;
A Domestic Abuse Commissioner to stand up for survivors and life-saving domestic abuse services;
A legal duty on councils to fund support for survivors in ‘safe accommodation’
New protections in the family and civil courts for survivors – including a ban on abusers from cross-examining their victims, and a guarantee that survivors can access special measures (including separate waiting rooms, entrances and exits and screens);
New criminal offences – including post-separation coercive control, non-fatal strangulation, threats to disclose private sexual images;
A ban on abusers using a defence of ‘rough sex’;
A guarantee that all survivors will be in priority need for housing, and will keep a secure tenancy in social housing if they need to escape an abuser;
A ban on GPs for charging for medical evidence of domestic abuse, including for legal aid;
A duty on the government to issue a code of practice on how data is shared between the public services survivors report to (such as the police) and immigration enforcement.
Clare’s Law has been in operation across England and Wales since March 2014, however a lot of people still don't know what it is.
Essentially, it is a scheme which allows you to request information from the police if you believe your partner may be a danger towards you.
It is also known as the Domestic Violence disclosure Scheme, a scheme aimed at preventing the perpetration (and escalation) of violence between intimate partners through the sharing of information about prior histories of violence.
If you feel you are at risk of becoming victim to domestic abuse, or feel you are involved with someone you fear may have been abusive in the past, you should consider making a disclosure request under Clare’s Law.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (CSODS) lets you formally ask the police whether someone who has contact with a child or children:
has a record for child sexual (paedophile) offences
poses a risk to the child or children for some other reason
It's not a law, but it is sometimes called 'Sarah's Law'. It gives guidance on how you can ask us to use our existing police powers to share information about sex offenders.
Research suggests that around 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused.