Stratford-on-Avon District Council's Cabinet has agreed to support the new Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 introduces a range of enhancements to the protections for those experiencing domestic abuse:
- Domestic abuse defined in law
For the first time, domestic abuse is legally defined and references emotional abuse, financial and economic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour and post-separation abuse.
- A number of legal changes that support victim/survivors
An end to the 'rough sex' defence, an extension of the 'revenge porn' offence, and the creation of a new non-fatal strangulation offence. Statutory footing will also be given to the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's law).
- The recognition of children as victims and survivors if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse.
- The Domestic Abuse Commissioner
The Act establishes the role of the Commissioner, which includes gathering data on domestic abuse, supporting specialist organisations and acting as an independent voice.
- Statutory duty for housing
The Act places a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to survivors and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation. Survivors made homeless as a result of abuse will automatically qualify for 'priority need'; survivors with lifetime or assured tenancies will not lose them if they need to move as a result of abuse.
- Special measures
Perpetrators will not be able to cross-examine survivors in family and civil courts and professionals will be prohibited from charging a survivor for a letter to support a legal aid application.
- Management of perpetrators
The Act requires the government to introduce a national perpetrator strategy, which will include a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order to help prevent reoffending and provide immediate protection for survivors.
In recognition of the considerable additional responsibilities in this area the government have made available the domestic abuse safe accommodation funding allocation. This has been allocated to both Warwickshire County Council (£1,040,132) and districts/boroughs.
Stratford-on-Avon District has been awarded £34,416 for the current year.
The allocation for Stratford District will fund activity to support the development of the Safe Accommodation Strategy* and the demand for additional temporary accommodation resultant from the enhanced responsibilities.
Cllr Jo Barker, Homes, Health and Wellbeing Portfolio says: "Domestic abuse impacts the lives of many of our residents, families and communities. I know, as I speak to a lot of - mostly - women about the dreadful domestic situations they survive or have fled from. So the contents of the new Act are welcome and provides more protection to domestic abuse victims and survivors across Warwickshire.
"For many victims the fear of homelessness keeps them and their families in dangerous situations and often forces them to return to the person causing harm. We know that leaving home and seeking refuge can be literally lifesaving for many who are fleeing. This additional funding will help us to continue to work with partners to help victims and provide support for them and their children in safe accommodation."
If you, or someone you know is in a relationship that doesn't quite feel right, speak to someone about it. You can get help and advice from the Warwickshire Domestic Violence Service provided by Refuge on 0800 408 1552.
In addition, the Talk2Someone website provides a range of local and national organisations that are able to help: https://www.talk2someone.org.uk/support-services/. This includes specialist male domestic violence charities and LGBTQ+ domestic violence charities.
Please always dial 999 in an emergency.
- The Domestic Abuse Act, received Royal Assent on the 29 April 2021.
- *The Safe Accommodation Strategy 2021 - 2024 outlines how Warwickshire will implement the statutory duties associated with the provision of safe accommodation, as required by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. It describes how safe accommodation and support for domestic abuse victims-survivors will be provided over the next three years.
- Stratford-on-Avon District Council supports the existing infrastructure aimed at reducing the impact of domestic abuse and is part of the Violence Against Women and Girls Board, the Safe Accommodation Working Group, local Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference meetings, contributes to Domestic Homicide Reviews and led on the Domestic Abuse section of the recent countywide Homelessness Strategy.
- The District Council has previously enabled and directly funded the Stratford-upon-Avon domestic abuse refuge and currently provides bridge funding to enable to delivery of an outreach worker employed by Refuge (the domestic abuse charity) in the District.