Final draft

16.9.14

A

BILL

To

Make provision for the investigation of allegations of coercive control and domestic violence, for duties on the police in respect of domestic violence, for risk assessment and training in connection with related criminal proceedings in England and Wales; and for connected purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by authority of the same as follows:

1.  Offences of Coercive Control and Domestic Violence

(1)  Any person who commits an act or engages in a course of conduct that amounts to Coercive Control in a domestic setting shall be guilty of an offence.

(2)  A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable-

(a)   on summary conviction to a community order or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or

(b)  on conviction on indictment to a community order or term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

(c)   There shall be a presumption of custody in respect of any person convicted under section (2) (a) or 2(b) above unless there are exceptional circumstances

(3)  The Secretary of State shall by regulations-

(a)  set out matters that the Court must take into account when determining whether to   refer the matter to the Crown Court,

(b)  require a court, local authority or other public body not to disclose the current address or postcode of the victim of an alleged offence under (1) if, in the court’s view, it would place the victim at risk of harm by the alleged perpetrator or any other person, 

(c)  provide the court with the power to require those convicted of an offence under (1) to successfully complete a domestic violence program and/or another appropriate counselling program as ordered by the court, and

(d)  provide the court with the power to issue Domestic Violence Orders under Section 28 of the Crime and Security Act 2010 to those convicted of an offence under (1).

(4)  Regulations under this section shall be made by statutory instrument and may not be made unless a copy has been laid in draft before, and approved by, both Houses of Parliament.

 2.     Prosecution of offences of coercive control

 (1)  The prosecution of any person under the terms of clause 1 (above) shall not be the subject of statutory time limits.

 3.     Definition of Domestic Violence

 (1)  For the purposes of this Act, “Domestic Violence” means-

(a)  Controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour,

(b)  Physical violence, or

(c)  Abuse, including but not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

(2)   For the purposes of the definition in subsection (1)-

 “coercive controlling behaviour” shall mean a course of conduct, knowingly undertaken, making a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

 “coercive or threatening behaviour” means a course of conduct that knowingly causes the victim or their child or children to-

(a)  fear that physical violence will be used against them,

(b)  experience serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s day-to-day activities.

(3)  For the purposes of subsection (2) a person shall be deemed to have undertaken a course of conduct knowingly if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would conclude that the individual ought to have known that their course of conduct would have the effect in subsection 2 (a) or (b).

 4.     Domestic violence: policies, standards and training

 (1)  The Secretary of State shall require every police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to develop, adopt, publish and implement written policies and standards for officers’ responses to coercive control and domestic violence incidents within one year of this Act coming into force.

(2)  The purpose of the policies required under subsection (1) shall be to ensure that police forces prioritise cases of domestic violence involving coercive control as serious criminal offences.

(3)  The purpose of the standards required under subsection (2) shall be to ensure-

(i)  a minimum level of information and support for victims of alleged domestic violence, and

(ii)  all police officers involved in domestic violence cases shall have had appropriate training in domestic violence behaviours.

(4)  In developing these policies and standards each police service shall consult with local domestic violence experts and agencies.

 5.     Provision of Training

(1)  The Secretary of State shall, within one year of this Act coming into force, publish and implement a strategy to provide training in domestic violence behaviours including coercive control for those who may into contact with domestic violence cases in-

            (a)  the Crown Prosecution Service,

            (b)  health services,

            (c)  social services,

            (d)  educational establishments, and

            (e)  such other public bodies as the Secretary of State considers   appropriate.

6.     Annual Report

 The Secretary of State shall lay before both Houses of Parliament an annual report on the effect of the sections contained within this act on victims of domestic violence.

 7.     Commencement and Extent

 (1)  This Act extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 (2)  The Secretary of State may by Order in Council extend the provisions of this Act to the Isle of Man and any of the Channel Islands.

 8.     Commencement

This Act shall come into force on such a day as the Secretary of State may by statutory instrument appoint.

 9.     Short Title

This Act may be cited as the Domestic Violence Act 2014.

 

SCHEDULES

SCHEDULE 1

DEFINITIONS

 

1.     Definitions

 (a)    “Domestic Violence” means any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners regardless of gender or sexuality.  This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

(i)  psychological

(ii)  physical

(iii)  sexual

(iv)  financial

(v)  emotional

 (b)  “Coercive Controlling behaviour” means a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

 (c)   “Coercive behaviour” means an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.  This definition includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

 (d)   “Victim” means a person who is a victim of domestic violence.

 (e)   “Perpetrator(s)” means a person or persons who are perpetrator(s) of domestic violence.

 (f)    “Officer” means any officer of the police service.

 (g)   “Child(ren)” is a child of a victim of domestic violence or a perpetrator of domestic violence or both.

 

SCHEDULE 2

LOCAL POLICIES

1.     A police officer investigating allegations of domestic violence shall provide victims if required with the following:

(a)   Emergency assistance to victims such as medical care, transport to a refuge or to a hospital for treatment where necessary.

(b)  Assistance out of the perpetrator’s residence if needed.

(c)   The names and phone numbers of local hotlines for refuges or for counselling.

(d)  Assisting the victim in pursuing criminal charges such as providing a crime number and referral to the relevant investigation unit.

(e)   Furnishing a statement to the victim that “for further information about a refuge you may contact _”

(f)   A statement that “for further information for other services in the community you may contact _”

(g)  A statement informing the victim about the right to go to court to request a Domestic Violence Protective Order or an order directing the perpetrator to leave the household, or an order preventing the perpetrator from entering the household or the place of employment of the victim, or an order restraining the perpetrator having contact with children.