October motion

Leeds TUC notes

  • Official socio-economic cost of domestic abuse £66b, 2016/17
  • Record childcare cases, 60% featuring domestic abuse
  • Victims’ continued unwillingness to criminalise partners/former partners
  • Most murders occur when/after victim ends relationship, following previous abuse – sometimes despite earlier police/social services intervention
  • Family Law Act (FLA) 1996 non-molestation and occupation orders protected victims and children – most applications emergency, without notice – court attached powers of arrest to orders
  • The Domestic Violence (Crime and Victims) Act 2004 (DVCVA) – a criminal law – made breach a criminal offence, maximum 5 years custody. Crucially, it amended the FLA to prohibit family courts from attaching powers of arrest to non-molestation orders
  • Now, on breach, victims are without protection. Legal aid ended, they must rely on criminal proceedings for enforcement

Leeds TUC believes

  • The power of arrest was a powerful deterrent against breach, because consequences immediate – arrest, committal proceedings in 24 hours, maximum 2 years’ custody
  • Such orders provided vital calm for courts to resolve related issues – long-term living arrangements, finance, property, importantly children.
  • The DVCVA has not been helpful to victims nor sent perpetrators the intended ‘clear message’

Leeds TUC resolves

  • To amend the FLA, letting courts again attach powers of arrest to non-molestation orders
  • To repeal that part of the DVCVA making breach a criminal offence
  • Both parties in FLA and related Children’s Act proceedings should be eligible for legal aid
  • Support services should be properly funded

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