Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

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Pressure builds to make Domestic Violence a Separate Offence

In English law there is no specific criminal offence of domestic violence. This does seem odd given the plethora of pressure groups and the recognition that under any analysis domestic violence is now a major problem in this country. The situation might soon change if calls for a new offence of domestic violence (punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment) are answered. Currently, incidents of domestic abuse are dealt with under the most appropriate offences within the general criminal law, for example stalking, assault, threats to kill or rape. The pressure that incidents of domestic violence put on our major institutions such as courts, hospitals and schools is desperately intense. Each year there are around three quarters of a million male victims of domestic violence and at least twice as many female victims. Children are victimised by what they see and hear as well as by their physical experiences. Domestic violence costs the country around £15 billion a year in justice system, healthcare and social care costs. Making domestic violence a specific criminal offence might increase the pressure on society to wake up to the reality that domestic violence is not limited to sexual and physical abuse but includes threats, emotional abuse and psychological abuse as well. Although the police have moved on from the idea that abuse within the context of an intimate relationship is a lesser offence, more training is needed to enhance their understanding and awareness. A new offence on our statute books may well be the most sensible way of achieving that goal. Also despite being an obvious healthcare problem there are currently no basic training requirements for all health professionals in the undergraduate curriculum on how to respond to domestic violence.

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