Domestic violence

Domestic violence is unacceptable and tackling the issue is a priority for this government.

Our response to domestic violence is included within the violence against women and girls action plan. The government definition of domestic violence is:

  • 'Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.'

This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

In December 2011, we issued a consultation on widening the current cross-government definition of domestic violence. In addition, the consultation also seeks views on whether the current definition is being applied consistently across government and if it is understood by practitioners, victims and perpetrators.

Domestic violence disclosure scheme

A pilot to test a domestic violence disclosure scheme began on Monday 16 July 2012 in the Gwent and Wiltshire police force areas, with the Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire police force areas joining the pilot by no later than 10 September 2012. The pilot will conclude in September 2013.

Under the scheme an individual can ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past ('right to ask'). If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. The pilot will also look at how the police can proactively release information ('right to know') to protect a person from domestic violence where it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so. Both processes can be implemented within existing legal powers. Interim guidance to accompany the pilot is available here.  

The pilot follows the consultation published in October 2011 where the government sought views on whether the protection available to victims of domestic violence could be enhanced by establishing a national disclosure scheme with recognised and consistent processes for the police to disclose information to potential victims.

Whilst a clear majority of respondents favoured the introduction of a national disclosure scheme, the consultation raised important issues on the scope and proportionality of the information that should be disclosed to potential victims and the safeguards that will be needed against malicious applications. 

The government has taken the view that it is right that these issues are addressed and tested in a pilot to ensure that the disclosure scheme is compatible with all relevant law. The government will consider the outcomes from the pilot very carefully before deciding on next steps. The government wants to ensure that the public has confidence that a clear framework exists with recognised and consistent processes for disclosing information that supports their needs.

'Three steps to escaping violence against women and girls'

In February 2012, in association with Southall Black Sisters, we released this leaflet offering help and guidance to women, girls and children suffering violence and abuse.

The leaflets are aimed at black and minority ethnic communities and are available in Arabic, Bengali, Pashto, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish and Urdu.

Forced marriage

The forced marriage unit has published its review of the implementation of the statutory guidance on forced marriage across public agencies in England and Wales.

The report focuses on how statutory agencies have applied the strategic principles for dealing with forced marriage and provides a number of recommendations for improving their response.

Male victims of domestic and/or sexual violence fund 2011-13

In December 2011 the Home Office launched a fund to support male victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. The following organisations were successful in this fund and will receive up to £10,000 over the next 2 years to support services for male victims.

Survivors UK
Women’s Support Network
Arch North Staffs
Southampton Rape Crisis
Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC)
Blackpool Advocacy
Safer Wales
Preston Domestic Violence Service
North Derby Women’s Aid
The Lesbian and Gay Foundation
ROSA and Safeline

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