MPs from all parties are backing a tough US-style law that would make domestic abuse a specific offence carrying a sentence of up to 14 years in prison. This is something that will hopefully help increased conviction rates; as it is recognised that at present conviction rates are low and often the perpetrator is convicted of a crime such as Battery that does not represent the full scale of abuse suffered by the victim. At present there is no specific offence of domestic abuse as defined by criminal law.
New sentences will reflect all domestic abuse, both physical and psychological and recognise abuse that was part of a pattern of behaviour. In many cases the police, courts and prosecutors fail to take into account the previous abusive behaviour of an offender.
The proposed bill is modelled on legislation introduced in the US that has resulted in a dramatic increase in convictions and reporting of domestic abuse. The proposed law would provide a legal framework that would make domestic abuse a specific offence and would allow for the examination of a perpetrator’s course of conduct over a period of time. It is hoped that this will further encourage victims to come forward; as tragically, as we have blogged previously, many victims feel unable to report the abuse and suffer up to 30 attacks before coming forward. Tragically, this can be too late.
The Plaid Cymru MP who is presenting the bill to parliament; Elfyn Llwyd recognises that “Domestic abuse is characterised by a catalogue of incidents, a pattern of behaviour which can include coercive control and emotional blackmail as well as physical violence.”
If you are a victim of domestic violence then we can help by providing specialist advice about how to protect you and your children. We can also refer you to support services available locally. For further information please contact us.