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Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation amongst professionals working in health, social care, criminal justice, policing, education and local authorities to find out how they should be tackling the growing issue of domestic violence and abuse.

Domestic Abuse is fast becoming a national crisis.

Last year, nearly 2 million adults were affected by domestic abuse, whilst the police were called out to 1.1 million domestic abuse-related incidents (source: ONS, year-end March 2017).

Under the proposals set out by the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill, the government plan to make landmark changes to support those who have been affected by abuse.

Not only does the Bill pledge to deal with perpetrators more effectively, but it also seeks to redefine the statutory definition of domestic abuse by moving away from the perception that it only involves physical violence. Instead, it will also incorporate those who have suffered financial abuse as well as those affected by coercion or control – subjects which will be familiar to social workers and health professionals.

Following the conclusion of the consultation period (which took place March-May), the government will now use the views of professionals to help shape the draft legislation for the Bill.

Andrew Caplen, co-director of Restored (an international Christian Alliance that aims to transform relationships and end violence against women) believes that now is the time for us to have a “national conversation about the issue of domestic abuse”.

Speaking exclusively to Sanctuary Social Care about the plans to tackle domestic abuse, he says:

“Now is the right time to look at domestic abuse as a real issue. Societal attitudes are changing – people are much more aware of domestic abuse these days, and from a criminal justice perspective, it would appear that it is being taken much more seriously. However, there is still a long way to go.”

“The focus from the consultation is good. I’m pleased to see that there are plans to change the statutory definition of domestic abuse because we know that emotional coercion or control can have long lasting effects upon a victim, just as physical abuse can.”

He concludes; “Domestic abuse should be placed high on the agenda, but we need to have more conversations about it’s lasting impact upon victims. We need to make sure that it is viewed as completely unacceptable and that these views are echoed across the country. There should be a national outcry over the fact that one in four women are likely to have been affected by abuse. In 2018, this should simply not be acceptable.”

“The initial consultation of the Bill is a constructive start, I just hope that any new legislation is given enough time and money to be long-lasting and sustainable.”

What do you think about the proposals set out by the Domestic Abuse Bill? What do you think should be included in the legislation to help people in social work jobs deal with domestic abuse cases? Let us know your thoughts using the comments box below
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