UK promises to put the ‘fear of God’ into domestic abusers
UK Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has vowed to put the “fear of God” into domestic abusers by addressing loopholes in the current legislation that allow “too many” offenders to avoid punishment.
Writing in The Telegraph, Raab committed to extending the time limit for victims of domestic violence to report crimes from six months to two years. He argued that the existing strictures had allowed “too many cases” to evade the courts simply because a victim was too afraid to come forward quickly, leaving them “timed out.”
The extension of the timeframe for prosecution is part of a package of measures being introduced by the deputy PM to combat violence against women and leave the “door to justice open to thousands” of people who’ve been domestically abused in the UK.
For many, the fear of being out alone after dark, or that they may be beaten in their own home, is a grim everyday reality. We must turn that situation around.
Figures cited by Raab show that the number of victims unable to prosecute an alleged offender because they ran out of time rose from 1,451 in 2016-17 to 3,763 in 2020-21.
The changes he plans to institute are aimed at restoring confidence in the judicial system among women and to “instil the fear of God into the mind of anyone” who might consider abusing them, he said. They were made in response to a damning quasi-government report into the effectiveness of police engagement with women and girls, published last March, that spoke of an “epidemic” of gender-based violence.
Under the new legislation, the non-consensual taking of photographs or videos of breastfeeding mothers will now be a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. The move comes after Labour MP Stella Creasy raised concerns about having been photographed breastfeeding her baby on public transport.
Responding to the government’s announcement, Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, praised the rule changes as an effective way to “remove another barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice.”
The legislation will come into effect through amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament.