DV Law Reform

Sara Charlton Foundation, Paladin, the first National Stalking Advocacy Service and Women’s Aid, the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children joined together to campaign for a new law that effectively criminalises domestic violence. As a result of the campaign, on 18th December 2014, the government announced a new offence criminalising patterns of coercive behaviour, controlling behaviour and psychological abuse. On the 3rd March 2015 this became part of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Some of the most dangerous cases happen when domestic violence and coercive control co-occur. This is when women and children are more likely to be murdered and early identification and intervention is vital to saving lives.
Prior to the Serious Crime Act 2015, the laws used to prosecute domestic violence – including breach of a restraining order, damaging property, assault, burglary, rape, kidnapping and murder – did not describe it’s essence. It missed the fact that domestic violence is about fear and a pattern of continuing acts.

As a direct result, the seriousness of the pattern of abuse was not identified or understood despite the fact that victims often reported that “the violence isn’t the worst part” of being abused and that the non-violent forms of abuse can be more devastating than physical or sexual violence.

A more comprehensive criminal law was needed to close the gap between the current response and the long term oppression and suffering of victims and children. This change will save lives and money.

Home Office Press Release

DV Law Reform Campaign Press Release