Draft Domestic Abuse Bill Contents

1Statutory definition

18.The draft Domestic Abuse Bill contains the first statutory definition of domestic abuse for England.14 The Government’s aim in publishing a statutory definition is to “ensure that all domestic abuse is properly understood, considered unacceptable and actively challenged across statutory agencies and in public attitudes.”15

19.The new definition provides that domestic abuse occurs between two people if they are both over 16,16 “personally connected”17 and the behaviour is defined as abusive under clause 1(3).18 Clause 1(3) reads:

Behaviour is “abusive” if it consists of any of the following—

(a) physical or sexual abuse;

(b) violent or threatening behaviour;

(c) controlling or coercive behaviour;

(d) economic abuse;

(e) psychological, emotional or other abuse.19

20.The draft Bill further defines economic abuse as “any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect” on the victim’s ability to “acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or … obtain goods or services.”20 The definition also provides that behaviour may be domestic abuse where a third party, such as the victim’s child, is ostensibly the target of the abuse.21

21.Overall, the Bill’s role in establishing a definition of domestic abuse was welcomed, although there were criticisms particularly of its non-gendered nature. We will consider the specific criticisms made of the statutory definition before considering the role gender should take in defining domestic abuse.

Definition of abusive behaviours

22.The inclusion in the statutory definition of broad categories of abusive behaviour rather than specific instances of it was generally well-received by our witnesses. Andrea Simon, of End Violence Against Women, singled out the inclusion of economic abuse as particularly welcome.22 Economic abuse is a broader concept than financial abuse which is focused on money, and would include denying a victim resources so they could get to work. Age UK also welcomed the Government’s decision to widen the definition in this way, stating that they hoped the change would promote a “more robust consideration” of issues of potential coercion and control in enquiries relating to the potential financial abuse of older people and family members.23

23.Elspeth Thompson of Resolution (a national organisation of family lawyers) told us the Government had the definition broadly correct, although she noted that coercive control was not defined in the Bill but in guidance.24 Ms Thompson also raised a concern about the drafting of the abusive behaviour clause:

the consultation included in the definition “not limited to” and gave examples, but in the Bill, it appears to be an exhaustive list. I am not sure what the thinking behind that was. In particular, the list in the draft Bill does not include some cultural-specific domestic abuse, such as stranding, matrimonial abandonment and that sort of thing. It might help to future-proof the Bill if it had a “not limited to” part, rather than making it a fixed list.25

24.Victoria Atkins, Minister for the Home Office, explained the Government had sought to future-proof the statutory definition by setting out broad categories of abusive behaviour:

we cannot seek to define every which way in which a perpetrator will seek to abuse. You will have heard evidence not just from stakeholders, but from victims, as to the huge array of ways in which a determined perpetrator can abuse their so-called loved ones. What we have sought to do is to say, “These are the categories of behaviour but, within that, as the statutory guidance will make clear, it can take many forms.”

I know, for example, people are very concerned that forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence, FGM and so on, should be included or be capable of being included in the definition. To my mind, there are several of the broad categories that those behaviours would fall into. It would be open to courts or whichever forum is looking at it to interpret those broad categories accordingly.26

25.The primary concern expressed by some from whom we heard was the continued lack of understanding of how domestic abuse manifests itself, particularly forms of domestic abuse which disproportionately affect BME and migrant women.27 Nazir Afzal, Welsh Government Adviser on Domestic Abuse, told us that some specific type of abuses need to be included in the definition on the face of the Bill:

[the definition] should include honour-based violence, forced marriage and spousal abandonment, which are the kinds of things on which we are failing around the country because there is such a lack of understanding. Unless those are in the definition, I am afraid that they will be missed in the way that they are currently.28

26.Several of our witnesses agreed with Mr Afzal, including Karla McLaren of Amnesty who expressed concern that the absence of forms of domestic abuse that disproportionately affect BME people would be a missed opportunity in raising awareness “in terms of the policy and programme-making… in terms of commissioning services and policies, it is important that women and men and others are able to access services that reflect the nature of the type of abuse they face.”29 Zehrah Hasan, of Liberty, agreed that there was a danger the definition as drafted could inadvertently be discriminatory by not recognising coercive control related to immigration status where perpetrators use:

the threat of deportation to prevent survivors from reporting violence and in many cases by confiscating survivors’ vital paperwork and immigration documentation. Inevitably, that leaves migrant survivors of domestic abuse in an impossible situation where they are forced to choose between the risk of destitution, detention or deportation, or staying in a situation of violence.30

27.Ms Hasan also raised a concern that the definition as drafted was not in line with the definition of domestic abuse used in the family courts under Practice Direction 12J.31 Practice Direction 12J states that domestic abuse specifically includes forced marriage, honour-based violence, dowry-related abuse and transnational marriage abandonment, where a husband strands his wife abroad without papers or, usually, money to prevent her exercising her residence or matrimonial rights in England and Wales.32

28.We have heard compelling evidence that certain forms of abusive behaviour are not being recognised by public bodies as domestic abuse. This is usually because they are disproportionately experienced by BME people, or relate to an individual’s immigration status, even though such abuse is almost invariably perpetrated by a member of the victim’s household or extended family. We recommend that the Bill is amended to provide that the following types of abuse are always treated as domestic abuse: Female Genital Mutilation; forced marriage; honour-based crimes; coercive control related to immigration status; and modern slavery and exploitation. This amendment must make it clear that specifying these types of abuse does not limit the definition of domestic abuse, it simply clarifies that they fall within the statutory definition, and the victims and perpetrators should be treated accordingly.

29.We endorse the Government’s approach to defining domestic abuse by the inclusion of broad categories of behaviour in order to future-proof the statutory definition, subject to our recommendation in paragraph 28 on specific abusive behaviours that must be treated as falling within the definition of domestic abuse.

30.The Magistrates Association was concerned that the drafting of the definition of abusive behaviours did not make it clear whether or not a one-off occurrence could amount to domestic abuse, as under the current cross-government definition.33 The current proposal uses only the more generic term ‘behaviour’. The Magistrates Association favoured the statutory definition explicitly applying to all instances of domestic abuse, including those that were seemingly a stand-alone event.34

31.We recommend that the statutory definition should be redrafted to make it clear that single occurrences may constitute domestic abuse, and it is not necessary to prove a “course of behaviour”. In making this recommendation we specifically have in mind abusive acts such as abandonment, where a wife or partner is deserted abroad without papers to prevent them from exercising their matrimonial or residence rights in England and Wales. It would not be in the spirit of the Government’s stated ambitions for the Bill if such behaviour could arguably be excluded from the definition because it can be characterised as a stand-alone event.

Age limit

32.The statutory definition applies to abusive behaviour perpetrated by someone over 16 on a person who is over 16.35 We heard arguments both for raising and lowering the age limit. Emily Frith, of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, argued the age limit should be removed “so that we don’t exclude under-16s experiencing abuse in intimate partner relationships.”36 We heard moving personal testimony from young people themselves, particularly on the need for under 16 year-olds who had suffered domestic abuse in a peer relationship to see that there were consequences for the perpetrator—essentially, that justice was available to them regardless of their age.

33.Ms Frith told us that an NSPCC study from 2009 found that 21% of girls aged 13 who were in relationships experienced physical abuse, while Safe Lives had found that 16- and 17-year olds who reported abuse within a relationship took on average a year and a half to seek help.37 Safe Lives supported the suggestion that the minimum age at which someone could be deemed a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse could be lowered below 16, “with appropriate safeguards to ensure this does not detract from child safeguarding, unduly criminalise children or inadvertently criminalise parents who are also victims.”38

34.The Children’s Society told us that:

including all teenagers who experience violence or abuse in romantic relationships within the definition of domestic and relationship abuse would allow for early response to prevent abuse escalating, particularly where a young person is not making a disclosure of sexual abuse but there are other signs that the relationships are abusive. We have suggested that this is from the age of 13 years old.39

35.Eleanor Briggs, of Action for Children, in contrast supported the retention of the proposed age limit “to ensure that abuse of under-16s is always recognised as child abuse.”40 Ms Briggs also expressed concern that a reduction in the age limit could lead to the criminalisation of child perpetrators: “our view is that they need support, so we can try to change trends at that age.”41 Debbie Moss, of Barnardos, agreed that criminalisation of perpetrators under 16 should be avoided. The Children’s Society said these arguments for not lowering the age limit below 16 were “unacceptable”; they thought the same safeguarding concerns should apply to 16- and 17-year olds as to younger people because they are children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.42

36.All four witnesses called for the improvement of support services for child victims, both those in relationships and those suffering harm from domestic abuse between adults in their household, and for child perpetrators.43 Joint evidence from several organisations including Action for Children, Barnardo’s, the NSPCC, and The Children’s Society among others said age-appropriate support for victims of domestic abuse who were under the age the age of 16 was vital:

The Government needs to give greater consideration to young people who are victims of domestic abuse in their intimate relationships when they are younger than 16. They must be entitled to support services for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, regardless of their age.44

37.The submission quoted a young survivor of domestic abuse Holly, who attended a domestic abuse support service designed for adults, and who said: “‘I didn’t think this was helpful to me at all, it was all older women. Most of them had been referred there from social workers and had children so I felt like my problems weren’t as bad as theirs. I also couldn’t speak much and didn’t want everyone knowing in the group.’”45 Sadly, we heard that this was not an uncommon problem.

38.Victoria Atkins, Minister for the Home Office, said that the age limit had been reduced from 18 to 16 in the cross-government definition of domestic abuse as the result of a consultation in 2012. She told us that the Government had looked at the issue again in preparing the draft Bill and:

There was strong support in the consultation responses for maintaining the age of 16. In the wider context of abusive behaviour, if a victim is under the age of 16, that will be deemed to be child abuse, with all of the extra support in terms of social services. That is why there is a judgment and we have kept it at the age of 16.46

39.The Minister added that they had also taken into account concerns over criminalising children.47

40.We welcome that the Government has legislated to make relationship and sex education mandatory for all school age children and that it will tackle the issue of what healthy relationships look like with children from the age of five in an age appropriate way. We were disturbed to hear from young people themselves that they felt violent abuse in relationships between those under the age of 16 was not taken seriously.

41.We have found it difficult to decide on the age limit that should apply to the definition of domestic abuse but, on balance, agree the age-limit of 16 in the proposed statutory definition of domestic abuse is the right one. We recognise the concerns of witnesses that abuse suffered, and perpetrated, by under 16s in intimate relationships is not captured by the definition but believe the danger of lowering the age-limit would be the inevitable criminalisation of under 16-year-old perpetrators. This does not mean that it would always be inappropriate for perpetrators under 16 to face the criminal courts. The police need to review their guidance in this area. The priority must be to develop consequences that ensure young perpetrators stop their abusive behaviour, for their own sake as well as the children they abuse. It is equally vital that children who have suffered abuse in a peer to peer relationship receive specialist support.

42.We recommend that the Government conduct a specific review on how to address domestic abuse in relationships between under-16 year olds, including age-appropriate consequences for perpetrators. We note the inadequacy of the criminal justice system in dealing with these cases and recommend the review consider how to remedy this, including for cases that are not destined to come before the court, therefore ensuring victims’ need for justice is met. While the adult model is not the right one for children, the harm caused to all concerned is very high and this Bill will not be the landmark legislation it is intended to be if it does not tackle this difficult area.

43.We also agree that abuse of children by adults must always be treated as child abuse and reducing the age limit for victims runs the risk of confusing the approach of public authorities and denying the young victims of such abuse access to specialist services.

44.Action for Children told us that the impact of domestic abuse on children should be recognised in the statutory definition: “The definition has the potential to drive the much-needed shift away from seeing children as passive witnesses to violence in the home, towards their recognition as direct victims and survivors in their own right”.48 Action for Children explained that the specific duties imposed on local authorities in relation to children in need and children suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm were lacking, because the relevant definition of ‘harm’ in the Children Act 1989 does not protect children affected by coercive control within their household, despite research showing the adverse impact this can have.49

45.The Minister told us that the Government was very clear that children living in abusive households were victims of domestic abuse, and that it was trying “to put that into the Bill in a way that meets the other obligations in relation to child abuse”. She said that Clause 1(5) in the Bill, which points directly to a child being used by a perpetrator as part of the abuse, indicated the Government’s emphasis on children.50

46.We are concerned over the absence from the definition of children as victims of abuse perpetrated by adults upon adults and the evidence we have heard that this has a negative impact on services for children who have suffered such trauma. We recommend the Bill be amended so the status of children as victims of domestic abuse that occurs in their household is recognised and welcome the assurance from the Home Office Minister that the Government seeks to include the harm caused to children in abusive households in the definition. This would also ensure compliance with the Istanbul Convention which makes it clear that children may be the victims of domestic abuse by witnessing it rather than being the subjects of it.

47.We recommend the Government consider amending the relevant Children Act definition of harm to explicitly include the trauma caused to children by witnessing coercive control between adults in the household.

Personally connected

48.Clause 2 of the draft Bill sets out the relationships between victim and perpetrator that come under the definition of domestic abuse.51 The relationships listed are similar to those which constitute “associated persons” in the Family Law Act 1996. The key difference, pointed out to us by Resolution, is that the draft Bill does not include “they live or have lived in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder”.52 Resolution asked that we bear in mind this aspect of the definition from the Family Law Act, which is also in the definition of “personally connected” in the VAWDASV (Wales) Act 2015.53

49.It is not clear why the Government did not include the “same household” criterion in the definition of “personally connected” in the draft Bill. There does not seem to us to be an obvious downside to its inclusion. The courts have constructed the “same household” criterion broadly, ruling that the introduction of non-molestation orders was “intended to provide a swift and effective remedy to the victims of domestic violence—and [the courts] should not decline jurisdiction unless the facts of the case were plainly incapable of being brought within the statute.”54 Conversely, there may be a danger that abusive behaviour the definition is intended to cover may be missed if it is not included. We recommend the Government reconsider including the “same household” criterion in its definition of relationships within which domestic abuse can occur. This landmark Bill must ensure that no victim of domestic abuse will be denied protection simply because they lack the necessary relationship to a perpetrator with whom they live.

50.Ruth Bashall, giving evidence on behalf of Stay Safe East and Disabled Survivors, expressed concern that the definition of “personally-connected” did not reflect that many disabled people:

…have emotionally intimate relationships with the people who, in very large inverted commas, “care” for us, and the experience of abuse by those people is exactly the same as domestic abuse: the coercive control, the violence, the financial abuse and so on.55

51.We recognise that abuse of disabled people by their “carers” often mirrors that seen in the other relationships covered by the Bill. We conclude that abuse by any carer towards this particularly vulnerable group should be included in the statutory definition. We share the concerns of our witnesses, however, that, even with the “same household” criterion included in the definition of “personally connected”, paid carers, and some unpaid ones, will be excluded from the definition of domestic abuse. We recommend the Government review the “personally connected” clause with the intention of amending it to include a clause which will cover all disabled people and their carers, paid or unpaid in recognition of the fact this type of abuse occurs in a domestic situation.

A gendered understanding of domestic abuse

52.The Government’s ambitions for its domestic abuse legislation are for nothing less than a cultural transformation in our attitudes to domestic abuse and violence. In the Foreword to the draft Bill, the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, and the Rt Hon David Gauke, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, said the Domestic Abuse Bill would “provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the response to this terrible crime.”56

53.While domestic abuse can affect anyone, it is most often perpetrated by men against women. The Crime Survey for England and Wales figures for the year ending March 2018 showed that around twice as many women reported partner abuse as men.57

54.The raw figures do not show the differences in how and why women and men experience domestic abuse. A gendered understanding of the data which provides insight into how and why domestic abuse occurs allows for the tailoring of specific policies and specialist services not only to try and repair the harm caused by domestic abuse but potentially to show ways in which it may be prevented. Properly understood, a gendered approach to domestic abuse does not place one gender at a disadvantage compared to the other. A gender-neutral approach that fails to take account of the differences between men and women and assumes one size fits all can fail to meet the needs of any person suffering from domestic abuse because domestic abuse is experienced differently depending on many factors, including gender. To say that domestic abuse is gender-based is simply to recognise that the socially attributed norms, roles and expectations of masculinity and femininity which affect intimate relationships and family structures are integral to the use and experience of violence and abuse, whether perpetrated or suffered by men or by women.

A gendered statutory definition

55.Many of our witnesses were broadly supportive of a gendered definition of domestic abuse. Andrea Simon, of End Violence Against Women (EVAW) told us it was a “key concern” to her that “despite the international framework and our UK domestic policy framework comprehensively being based on well evidenced understanding that this is a crime that disproportionately affects women, the Bill itself is not on the face of it gendered.”58 Lucy Hadley, of Women’s Aid, emphasised that a gendered definition did not mean excluding men from it but that the definition recognised that, while anyone may suffer from domestic abuse, gender is key to understanding why and how an individual experiences abuse.59

56.Ms Simon further explained the case for a gendered definition, saying it was important that:

the definition centres coercion and control and those dynamics within an intimate partner relationship, because they very much speak to some powerful cultural ideas about male and female roles and how men are entitled to treat women, and the justifications and stereotypes for abuse and controlling behaviour. That is all central to how frontline services can identify abuse, and it is also important for commissioners of services to understand, so [I] feel the gendered nature of that is really important to emphasise.60

57.Lucy Hadley of Women’s Aid made a similar point when she told us: “Getting the definition right is crucial for guiding not only policies and strategies, but priorities and funding at local level and in public sector agencies, and getting that understanding of domestic abuse across all areas of the public sector that survivors might turn to for help.”61 She told us that taking account of the gender of the victim, whether male or female, was central to the creation of good support services for sufferers of domestic abuse.62 Representatives of other frontline services such as Nicole Jacobs, of Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse and Suzanne Jacob of Safe Lives agreed.63

58.We also heard from witnesses that a gendered definition of domestic abuse would assist the UK in meeting it obligations under the Istanbul Convention, and that a sensitive, gendered approach was not discriminatory. Jane Gordon, of Sisters for Change, said:

The convention recognises that state parties may wish to take special measures to prevent and protect women from gender-based and domestic violence, and it explicitly states that such measures will not constitute discrimination. It recognises that this form of violence—domestic abuse—disproportionally impacts women, and states specifically that if special measures are taken to recognise that form of abuse, that will not constitute discrimination. That is in the Istanbul convention, and it is in compliance with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.64

59.Other witnesses expressed concern that a gendered definition of domestic abuse would potentially be misunderstood and exclude men from the protections of the draft Bill. The ManKind Initiative told us:

We believe that domestic abuse is not a gendered crime which is the Government position. It is a crime that affects both women and men including those in same–sex relationships and they can be both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse… We have a concern on how the belief that domestic abuse is a gendered crime will be translated into actual statutory or policy guidance.65

60.Amanda Barron, Westminster Magistrate, was concerned that a gendered definition would prevent the courts from dealing with all the types of domestic abuse they had to address:

I wouldn’t want to see it being a gender-specific definition, because although the majority of cases we see are male against female, we also have quite a few same-sex cases that come to court. We also have quite a lot of interfamilial crimes that occur between children and parents, or brother on brother, so I would want to keep the definition open.66

61.Ms Barron went on to say:

I understand that once someone has been convicted, there should be certain different pathways, different support and different sorts of perpetrator programmes … We need more perpetrator programmes for different sorts and types of domestic abuse offences … [i]t would be good to see many more programmes available through the court and having that wide definition allows us to do that.67

62.Another witness, Nicole Jacobs of Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse, said:

I think it is partly just that we are thinking of it in different contexts, to be fair. In the court context, obviously you don’t want to prejudice any case that could be going through the criminal justice system. I was referring to the idea that we use this definition in a wider context when we are talking about the commissioning of local services and training. In that context, just the reference to the gendered nature would be helpful, because it would be accurate. But I would not necessarily disagree with your argument in the criminal justice context.68

63.Victoria Atkins, the Home Office Minister, told us the Government had considered “very carefully whether to make the definition reflect the fact that the majority of victims are female.”69 It had concluded:

Of the 2 million victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales last year, 695,000 were male. We came to the conclusion that we wanted the definition to reflect that men can be victims of domestic abuse as well, albeit that it is still a gendered crime. We will make that very clear in our statutory guidance, which we will publish alongside the introduction of the Bill.70

64.Clause 57 of the draft Bill provides that such statutory guidance “may” be published in due course. We received a letter from the Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, the Rt Hon Yvette Cooper, expressing concern over this provision. She noted that the Modern Slavery Act 2015 required the Home Secretary to publish statutory guidance in relation to that Act, but despite this: “On 8 November 2018, a High Court Judge drew attention to the failure of the Home Secretary, more than three years after the passing of the Modern Slavery Act, to comply with his obligations to provide guidance under s. 49 of that Act. Although the Judge noted that the Home Secretary had ‘an absolute duty immediately to issue the guidance that Parliament required of him’ and that ‘any further delay would be completely unacceptable.’”71 We consider a similar delay with the statutory guidance referred to by the Minister to be particularly undesirable.

65.We recommend that the Secretary of State publish draft statutory guidance in time for the Second Reading of the Bill, and Clause 57 be amended to require the final guidance to be published within six months of the Bill’s enactment.

66.Ms Atkins also told us that the problem with the commissioning of generic services and policies for domestic abuse would be tackled by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and was currently subject to a national statement of expectations.72

A gendered approach to abuse in statute

67.The challenge in drafting a gendered definition of domestic abuse is incorporating the gendered aspect without excluding any victim from the protections of the legislation. We considered a number of ways of approaching this challenge. In this context, we bore in mind the following recommendation of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in its recent report on domestic abuse:

We recommend that the bill explicitly recognises the gender inequality underlying domestic abuse, and the need to reflect this inequality in education programmes, funding, service provision, criminal justice and other statutory responses to domestic abuse. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recommended that the new statutory definition of domestic abuse should apply to both sexes, but that the disproportionate impact of domestic abuse on women and girls is explicitly highlighted in the text of the bill and the statutory guidance. We support this recommendation.73

68.In 2015, the Welsh Assembly passed the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act.74 The 2015 Act defines ‘abuse’ as “physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse”75 and defines ‘domestic abuse’ as “abuse where the victim of it is or has been associated with the abuser.”76 Section 2 of the 2015 Act provides:

(1)A person exercising relevant functions must have regard (along with all other relevant matters) to the need to remove or minimise any factors which-

(a)increase the risk of violence against women and girls, or

(b)exacerbate the impact of such violence on victims.77

69.The Act then defines the ‘relevant functions’ as powers contained in the legislation to publish a national strategy on domestic abuse and violence against women and girls; similar local strategies and guidance to educational establishments.78

70.The 2015 Act definition of domestic abuse does not, therefore, exclude anyone from its protection on the basis of gender but seeks to ensure approaches to domestic abuse and violence against women and girls acknowledge the realities of the gender context in which domestic abuse occurs.

71.The Government has described this Bill as a once-in-generation opportunity to transform the response to the terrible crime of domestic abuse. Given the landmark nature of the proposed legislation, we believe it is crucial that the gendered context of domestic abuse is recognised on the face of the Bill. Without this recognition the Bill cannot begin to fulfil the Government’s ambitions for it and achieve the transformative response required to combat the scourge of domestic abuse.

72.We believe many of the objections to a gendered definition of domestic abuse come from concerns that it could exclude men from the protection of the Act. We recognise this concern but our evidence shows it is based on a misunderstanding of what a gendered definition means in practice. A gendered definition of abuse does not exclude men. Anyone can, sadly, suffer from domestic abuse just as anyone, regardless of gender, can perpetrate it. In recommending a gendered definition of domestic abuse we want to embed a nuanced approach to the most effective response to domestic abuse for all individuals who suffer such violence, and to ensure that public authorities understand the root causes of this complex crime. We also believe our recommendation on how a gendered definition should be drafted allows the courts to continue to judge the raft of cases they currently hear without any fear of perpetuating discrimination towards men and boys. Incorporating a gendered definition of domestic abuse ensures compliance with the requirements of the Istanbul Convention in demonstrating a gendered understanding of violence against women and domestic abuse as a basis for all measures to protect and support victims.

73.We recommend the Government introduce a new clause into the draft Domestic Abuse Bill in the following, or very similar, terms: When applying Section 1 and 2 of this Act public authorities providing services must have regard to the gendered nature of abuse and the intersectionality of other protected characteristics of service users in the provision of services, as required under existing equalities legislation.

74.We recommend that the statutory guidance the Government is committed to issuing on the operation of the statutory definition of domestic abuse should require public authorities to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of domestic abuse on women and girls when developing strategies and policies in this area. We believe this will make the Bill the landmark legislation the Government intends and transform the way we as a country respond to the scourge of domestic abuse. We recommend draft guidance on the Bill be published at Second Reading and that all final guidance be published within six months of the day the Act comes into force.


14 Wales introduced a statutory definition of domestic abuse in 2015 and Scotland in 2018.

16 Draft Bill, cl 1(2)(a)

17 Draft Bill, cl 1(2)(a)

18 Draft Bill, cl 1(2)(b)

19 Draft Bill, cl 1(3)

20 Draft Bill, cl 1(4)

21 Draft Bill, cl 1(5)

22 Q2

23 Age UK (DAB0318)

31 Family Procedure Rules, PD12J—Child Arrangements & Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm, Family Procedure Rules (8 December 2017)

32 Family Procedure Rules, PD12J

33 In contrast, the criminal offence of coercive control requires a course of behaviour: Serious Crime Act 2015 Act, s 76.

34 The Magistrates Association (DAB0526)

35 Draft Bill, cl 1(2)(a)

38 SafeLives (DAB0458)

39 The Children’s Society (DAB0533)

42 The Children’s Society (DAB0533)

48 Action for Children (DAB0450)

49 Action for Children (DAB0450)

51 Draft Bill, cl 2

52 Family Law Act 1996, s 63(1)

53 Resolution (supplementary evidence) (DAB0521)

54 G v F (Non-molestation order), Times 24 May 2000, Wall J

57 6.3% and 2.7% respectively. The figures were equal for family abuse. Office for National Statistics, ‘Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018’, accessed 11 June 2019

58 Q2

59 Q8

60 Q3

61 Q3

62 Q7

65 The ManKind Initiative (DAB0382)

73 Home Affairs Select Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2017–19, Domestic Abuse, HC 1015

75 Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, s 24(1)

76 Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, s 24(1)

77 Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, s 2

78 Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, s 2(2)




Published: 14 June 2019