New powers to tackle domestic violence

Nigel Morris,Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 25 November 2010 01:00

a scheme to remove brutal partners from the family home has been saved following protests that scrapping it would worsen the plight of women already suffering serious abuse.

The Independent disclosed four months ago that Theresa May intended to halt plans to create "go orders", which give police power to take instant action against domestic violence. The Home Secretary, under pressure to slash her department's budget, told charities she had made the decision to save money and because of problems with the legislation setting up the orders.

Following accusations that women would suffer as a result of her move Ms May ordered a fresh review of the planned domestic violence protection orders. Last night she announced the scheme would be implemented after all.

Ed Balls, shadow Home Secretary, said: "Putting these plans on hold would have been a real step backwards for our work to tackle domestic violence and protect the victims of such abuse. I'm glad the Government has finally listened and given them the go ahead."

The proposed orders were designed by the previous government and were to be piloted this autumn and introduced nationally next year. They will enable suspected wife-beaters to be banned from their homes for up to four weeks even if there is not enough evidence to charge them. The action would be ordered immediately if a senior police officer feared women or children could come to harm.

Ms May said: "Tackling violence against women in all its forms is a priority for me and for this Government. Domestic violence is an appalling crime which sees two women a week die at the hands of their partners, while millions more suffer years of abuse in their own homes."

Police will be able to prevent alleged abusers from having contact with the victim, or returning to the victim's home, for 48 hours. A court would then be able to extend the order for a period of up 28 days.

The scheme would put the onus on the suspected abuser to find accommodation; at the moment the victims are often forced to flee.

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