Home Secretary Suella Braverman has unveiled “one of the toughest suites of measures” ever to tackle domestic violence in England and Wales. The most serious abusers will be monitored more closely, with electronic tagging to protect vulnerable partners, ex-partners, and children.
Violence against women and girls will now be classified as a national threat on the same level as terrorism, serious and organised crime, and child sexual abuse. Braverman commented: “Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime, and enough is enough. Today I’m announcing one of the toughest suites of measures that the Government has put forward to better protect victims of domestic abuse.”
The Home Office will invest £8.4 million over two years to fund specialist victim support programmes and ensure police forces prioritise combatting violence against women and girls. It is estimated that 2.4 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the 12 months prior.
Under the proposals, police, prison, and probation services will have to jointly manage offenders with a conviction of controlling or coercive behaviour who have been given sentences of 12 months or more, or a suspended sentence. These offenders will be recorded on the violent and sex offender register. In addition, civil orders being trialled in three areas in the UK could see offenders electronically tagged and made to attend behaviour change programmes.
A new scheme will also be piloted in Jobcentres around the country, whereby victims can use the Ask for Ani codeword to discreetly signal their predicament. Already in use in some pharmacies, it has led to emergency support being accessed on average once a week.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “No woman or girl should ever have to feel unsafe in her home or community and I am determined to stamp out these appalling crimes.” Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper commented: “Ministers promised to make violence against women and girls part of the strategic policing requirement a year ago, after months of pressure from Labour, so it should never have been delayed for this long.”
Last year, new government legislation was introduced which allowed judges to jail men who strangled their wives or girlfriends without killing them to up to five years in prison. Research in the National Library of Medicine in the United States suggests that partners are seven times more likely to be murdered if there have been non-fatal strangulation incidents beforehand.