We're launching a ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Bill - here's what that means

  • Ground-breaking series of measures to promote domestic abuse awareness, support victims, tackle perpetrators and improve services
  • Includes introducing statutory Government definition of domestic abuse, creating a Domestic Abuse Commissioner new Protection Notices and Orders to protect victims
  • Non-legislative actions will see further support for children affected by domestic abuse as well as elderly, disabled, male and migrant victims and those in the LGBTQ community  
  • Comes as new research finds the economic and social costs of domestic abuse is an astonishing £66 billion in 2016/17

We've unveiled the most comprehensive package ever to tackle domestic abuse.


The landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill has been published today (Monday 21 January), aimed at supporting victims and their families and pursuing offenders. 


To help tackle the crime, among the new legislation will:

  • Introduce the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and recognise the impact of controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse; 
  • Establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to provide drive the response to domestic abuse issues; 
  • Introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders;
  • Prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts; and
  • Provide automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts. 


Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins said: 


“I have heard absolutely heart-breaking accounts of victims whose lives have been ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse they have suffered by someone close to them. 


“The draft Domestic Abuse Bill recognises the complex nature of these horrific crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront. 


“This Government is absolutely committed to shining a light on domestic abuse to ensure this hidden crime does not remain in the shadows.”


It is estimated that around two million adults experience domestic abuse each year, affecting almost 6% of all adults. Women are twice as likely to be victims than men.


The draft Bill will introduce measures to address coercive control and economic abuse, how domestic abuse affects children and transform the response in the justice system. 


The Bill will also ban the distressing practice of domestic abuse perpetrators cross-examining their victims in the family courts.


Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: 


“Domestic Abuse is responsible for shattering lives and tearing families apart across the country. It can happen anywhere, to anyone. 


“Protecting victims and their children, as well as supporting survivors, is at the heart of our strengthened response to this horrific crime.

“Our draft Domestic Abuse Bill and wider package of measures unveiled today will bolster the protection for victims and will help expose and bring the vile abusers to justice.” 


Justice Secretary David Gauke said: 


“Domestic abuse destroys lives and warrants some of the strongest measures at our disposal to deter offenders and protect victims.


“That is why we are barring abusers from cross-examining their victims in the family courts - a practice which can cause immense distress and amount to a continuation of abuse - and giving courts greater powers, including new protection orders, to tackle this hideous crime.


“By pursuing every option available, to better support victims and bring more offenders to justice, we are driving the change necessary to ensure families never have to endure the pain of domestic abuse in silence.”





Between the draft Bill and its consultation response, the Government is making 120 commitments to tackle domestic abuse.


Amongst these are a series of non-legislative measures which include:


  • £8 million of Home Office funding to support children affected by domestic abuse
  • A new crisis support system for those with no recourse to public funds; 
  • Additional funding and capacity building for services for disabled, elderly and LGTB victims; 
  • Updated support, training and guidance on economic abuse;
  • New and additional training for job centre work coaches, police, social workers and probation staff to help them recognise and effectively tackle abuse;
  • Improved support for victims in the family court; and
  • Additional £500,000 funding for provisions for male victims