A landmark bill seeking to “transform” the UK’s response to the “terrible crime” of domestic abuse has fallen as Parliament prepares to dissolve ahead of the snap general election on 12 December.
The Domestic Abuse Bill – which will criminalise the economic control and manipulation of a person, as well as non-physical abuse such as domestic violence – had reached committee stage, and it was due to be discussed in the House of Commons on 21 November.
However, an update posted online reads: “Due to the imminent dissolution of this Parliament and the forthcoming general election, the bill will not progress any further and the Public Bill Committee will no longer meet.”
The bill would have created a legal definition of domestic abuse and put an end to cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts.
It also sought to install further protections for victims in the form of domestic abuse protection notices and orders.
Suzanne Jacob OBE, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Safe Lives, tweeted that she had been due to give evidence at the committee stage.
“This isn’t it! Now we pivot to push for manifesto pledges from all political parties,” she wrote, reacting to the news the bill had fallen.
Was due to give evidence to #DomesticAbuseBill Committee tmrw for @safelives_ but session pulled as Parliament rises for the Election. This isn't it! Now we pivot to push for manifesto pledges from all political parties. We need concrete work to #enddomesticabuse across the UK
— Suzanne Jacob (@SuzanneEJacob) October 30, 2019
A spokesperson from charity Women’s Aid said: “We will continue campaigning to ensure that the new parliament brings in legislation to protect survivors and improves the response to domestic abuse at the earliest opportunity, across housing, health and social care, children’s services, the family courts and many more.”
“It is vitally important to ensure survivors are able to escape to safety, and access the support they need to recover from abuse.”
The charity estimates that 21,084 referrals to refuges in England were declined in 2017/18.
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