Domestic Violence is the largest single form of violent crime.
There is protection in both civil and criminal law
There are no laws as such against what is the largest single form of violent crime, however many measures provide protection. Our organisation are frequently involved in supporting civil litigation in service of non-molestation orders and documents issued by the court providing for protection of children. We can also provide practical support and advice for victims
There is specialist family jurisdiction, with the Family Law Act 1996 making available non-molestation orders and orders affecting occupation of the family home. A non-molestation order may be accompanied by a Power of Arrest which, if infringed, may render the person served to criminal proceedings
Occupation orders fall into one of five categories depending on underlying property rights. A Power of Arrest can be attached to either type of order and must be added to a non-molestation order if violence was used or threatened. In the first 12 months following implementation of the Family Law Act 19,000 non-molestation orders were made, and 9,000 orders affecting occupation of the family home. Undertakings to refrain from certain conduct or to do certain things have been made statutory by the 1996 Act if sanctioned by a court. If broken, they attract the same penalties as civil injunctions
There is now a readiness throughout the criminal process to recognise serious offences that are perpetrated in the home for the violent acts they are - a far cry from days gone by when violence in the home was virtually deemed a private matter
The Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 introduced a number of specific new offences, recognising that assaults may be psychological as well as physical. Bail conditions can be used to limit the risk of violence, or an alleged perpetrator may be detained. Similarly, general civil law may be invoked to protect victims against violent and other behaviour by injunction
Although harrassment is not defined in the 1997 Act, it can include most interference between partners provided that there is a "course of conduct" involving at least two incidents. This includes the mental element
A Restraining Order, exclusive to harrassment cases, may be made in addition to the basic sentence. Criminal offences under Section 2 (harrassment) of the Act carry a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, a more serious offence under Section 4 ("putting people in fear") carries a maximum sentence of five years. Breach of a restraining order may carry an additional five year sentence
There is an increasing trend for local authorities and housing associations to use domestic violence as a basis for eviction
The first thing to do is talk to us, and we will arrange to meet you. Call us on 01483 200999 or on any of our local contact numbers. All matters are handled sensitively, confidentially and discreetly
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