Suspected wife-beaters could be banned from their homes for up to four weeks
even if there is insufficient evidence for them to be charged under plans
unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May today.
The “go orders” will enable police to step in and ban suspected attackers
from the victim’s home even if they are too afraid of taking action themselves or if no criminal proceedings are possible.
The year-long pilot scheme, which will start next summer in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia, comes as the Government prepares to publish its plans to crack down on violence against women and girls.
Mrs May said: “Domestic violence is an appalling crime which sees two women a week die at the hands of their partners, while millions more suffer years of abuse in their own homes.
“These new powers will allow the police to step in when the victims are most
vulnerable to give them vital space and time, which could ultimately save their lives.”
Police will be able to prevent alleged abusers from having contact with the
victim, or returning to the victim’s home, for 48 hours.
A court will then be able to extend the domestic violence protection order,
known as go orders, for a longer period, usually between 14 and 28 days.
Victims will be given support to discuss their options while suspected
attackers will have to find their own temporary accommodation.
The measure was first proposed by the previous government and similar schemes in Austria, Germany, Poland and Switzerland have proved to be a success, the Home Office said.
The orders are designed to fill the gap which often sees victims only receive
immediate protection when the attacker is arrested and charged.
Figures from the British Crime Survey showed more than one in four women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, with one million women experiencing at least one incident of domestic violence every year and one in 20 becoming a victim of stalking.
Deputy Chief Constable Carmel Napier, the lead on domestic abuse for the
Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the orders were one of the key recommendations from last year’s review of police powers for tackling violence against women and girls.
She said: “Domestic abuse is an enormous issue, one in seven of all violent
crimes reported are related to domestic abuse. Every year about one in six of all murders in the UK are domestic violence-related homicides.
“The orders will assist police in doing all we can to protect victims of
domestic abuse and give victims the necessary breathing space to make informed decisions about their long-term safety and that of their children without the immediate fear of threat or further harm.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Ed Balls said the move was a “very welcome reprieve for an important set of new powers”.
“These orders have been proven to work in other countries and would give the police the extra powers they need to protect the victims of domestic abuse,” he said.
Shadow women’s minister Yvette Cooper also welcomed the pilot scheme and called on the Government to reconsider backing Europe-wide action to combat trafficking of women and girls.
Women’s Aid, which campaigns to end domestic violence against women and children, said victims should receive further help and support once the powers, which have been used elsewhere in Europe for several years, have removed the suspected attacker from a home.
The NSPCC said the introduction of the orders was “a huge step forward” that
would give greater protection to the thousands of vulnerable children who were the hidden victims of domestic abuse.
Jennifer McLeod, Inspirational Parent and Relationship Coach, will be interviewed live on BBC 3 Radio 25 November 2010 to discuss the possibly implications of the governments proposals being implemented