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New laws offer hope to victims of domestic violence

Author: Gail Harris

Government plans recently announced will put an end to the “unacceptable diversity” faced by domestic violence victims throughout the UK.

The prime minister, Theresa May, said that there is no consistent approach to tackling domestic violence, neither in terms of resources or effort.

The introduction of a new law, The Domestic Violence and Abuse Act, aims to change the way we think about domestic violence and set in place a clear set of guidance for tackling the offence.

Prosecutions and conviction levels for domestic violence have improved in recent years. However, the government plans to pull together what’s already in place and introduce a range of new measures that will increase conviction rates and help victims who are let down by the current system.

Mrs May, commented: “Domestic violence and abuse is a life shattering and absolutely abhorrent crime; tackling it is a key priority for this government – and something I have always attached a personal importance to, both as home secretary and now as prime minister.

I believe that the plans (announced 17 February) have the potential to completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse. There are thousands of people who are suffering at the hands of abusers – often isolated and unaware of the options and support available to them to end it.”

Latest statistics estimate that 4.5million women and 2.2million men have experienced domestic abuse at some stage in their adult life. In the last year alone there were estimated to be 1.3 million female victims and 500,000 male victims.

In England and Wales, one woman is killed every 3 days and figures from the NSPCC estimate that more than half of the children caught up in domestic abuse are themselves harmed.

A third of domestic violence either starts or intensifies during pregnancy and foetal morbidity from violence is more common than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

Aside from the human cost, there is a staggering financial cost to society, estimated to be around £16billion a year, including costs for services such as the justice system, health, social services and housing. The loss to the economy, through women having to take time off work because of their injuries is estimated to be around £2billion.

Specialist divorce lawyer at Atherton Godfrey, Jayne Kirtley, welcomed the prime ministers commitment to support victims of domestic violence and commented: “Women’s refuge centres are closing because of a lack of funding. The billions of pounds being spent supporting victims would be better placed preventing these people from becoming victims in the first place.”

If you would like to speak to someone about the range of legal support we can offer, please call our team for a confidential chat about your options. You can also find information on our website.

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