New powers help victims of domestic violence

08 OCT 2009

Violent partners will be banned from their homes and their victims given support to escape abuse under new government proposals.

The police will be able to issue domestic violence protection orders, known as 'Go' orders, to bar the perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes for up to a fortnight, giving their victims breathing space to consider their options.

Currently, victims can only be protected immediately if the perpetrator is charged and bail conditions set, or if a civil injunction is sought by the victim. This means that in many cases, the only option for victims is to escape to temporary accommodation. The 'Go' orders will allow police to give evidence on the victim's behalf, removing the perpetrator from the home and preventing contact with the victim where they are concerned about the on-going risk of violence.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "It is not right that victims of domestic violence, who have already suffered so much, are forced out of their home. It is both safer and fairer to remove the abuser.

"Go orders will be another valuable tool to help protect victims, and tackle perpetrators of domestic violence."

The new orders have the support of Refuge, a national charity for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Chief Executive, Sandra Horley said: "Protecting abused women and children is at the heart of what Refuge does. These new orders will protect women from further risk of domestic violence if they are implemented effectively."

These new powers will complement restraining orders which came into force on 30 September, to help protect victims of harassment (including domestic abuse), where an offender has been prosecuted for any criminal offence, not just harassment offences.

Criminal courts will also have greater freedom to grant restraining orders when abusers appear before them, giving victims immediate protection and sparing them the ordeal of starting a separate civil action.

New legislation will be needed to implement the orders. They will be piloted in two police force areas to test the impact of the orders.

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