Action on abuse

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Plans by ministers to create a new crime of domestic abuse seem to have slipped under the media’s radar.

With worrying matters abroad taking the front pages, a move which could have a radical effect on hundreds of thousands of lives deserves more coverage – which is why we highlight it this week.

Home Secretary Theresa May is consulting on creating this offence as part of attempts to improve police performance and earlier this year she ordered Chief Constables to come up with domestic abuse plans by the autumn.

Currently there is a law which covers coercive and controlling behaviour – but it does not explicitly apply to relationships.

Last year ministers redefined domestic abuse, telling forces and criminal justice agencies that it also included violence and acts of psychological control that leave victims in terror.

According to the Home Office the official definition of domestic abuse in England and Wales is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threating behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Ministers are now asking whether a specific crime would end any ambiguity, leaving police in no doubt over when to intervene.

If it came into being this new law could not only cover acts of violence, but also incidents of psychological control, which cut off victims from friends or family or any other means to allow them to live freely.

This huge change to further protect victims is still very much at the talking stage, but we feel it is a positive step forward.

On average two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and these tales of tragedy are seldom played in the public spotlight. It goes on in all walks of society and affects all backgrounds.

Any moves that can highlight and provide increased protection for the vulnerable is something that is not only welcomed by Bowsers, but by all decent citizens of this country.