Theresa May vows to tackle 'vile' domestic abuse as long-delayed bill introduced

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

Theresa May has promised to tackle the "vile crimes" of domestic abuse in one of her final acts as Prime Minister.

Theresa May meets domestic abuse campaigners and charities.
Credit: 
PA

Mrs May spoke out as the Domestic Abuse Bill is finally introduced to Parliament more than two years after it was first announced.

The new law widens the scope of what counts as domestic abuse, adding moves to control a partner's access to money alongside other "coercive" and "threatening" behaviour to the legal definition of the crime for the first time.

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It also sets up a new watchdog for victims, beefs up the powers available to courts to prevent perpetrators from contacting those they have abused, and will see high-risk offenders forced to take mandatory lie detector tests when released from prison.

The bill is being introduced to Parliament just a week before Mrs May leaves Number 10 and is part of her attempts to establish a legacy before quitting frontline politics.

The Prime Minister said: "Domestic abuse can take many forms, from horrific physical violence to coercive behaviour that robs people of their self-esteem, their freedom and their right to feel safe in their own homes, but the immense bravery I’ve seen demonstrated by survivors is consistent throughout.

"We have a duty not only to bring the perpetrators of these vile crimes to justice, but to support victims as they rebuild their lives."

The move was given a cautious welcome by Sandra Horley, chief executive of the Refuge charity, which has campaigned against the cuts to local authority budgets which have hit women's services.

But she warned: "It is essential that within the Bill there is a duty to provide sustainable funding for life-saving specialist domestic violence services, in particular refuges. 

"Refuges are much more than a roof over a woman and child’s head – they provide emergency support and save lives."

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that an estimated 1.2 million women and some 713,000 men a year are victims of domestic abuse.