Evidence rules eased for battered women

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The Independent Online

Thousands of victims of domestic violence are to be spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court under new proposals allowing police to bring civil actions on their behalf.

Thousands of victims of domestic violence are to be spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court under new proposals allowing police to bring civil actions on their behalf.

Officers will be able to ask judges to order abusive husbands and boyfriends to stay away from victims or else face jail. Under existing laws, women can only take civil action in their own name, and many fear reprisals from violent partners.

Selected police forces around the country are expected to begin piloting these third-party restraining orders in October.

Ministers believe this will increase the number of convictions for domestic violence. Only 25 per cent of police callouts to such incidents currently result in an arrest.

The system has been pioneered in Australia, where the satisfaction rate among victims was as high as 90 per cent.

Margaret Moran MP, head of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence, said she welcomed the change. "Hopefully this will encourage women to testify against violent partners and bring them to justice," she said.