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FOCUS: The key elements of the proposed domestic abuse law

FOCUS: The key elements of the proposed domestic abuse law

Tuesday 12 October 2021

FOCUS: The key elements of the proposed domestic abuse law


Creating a register of previous domestic abusers and enabling police officers to issue ‘protection orders’ are among the key elements of a new law aimed at offering better protection to victims.

The Draft Domestic Abuse (Jersey) Law will also for the first time introduce a definition of domestic abuse, and make controlling and coercive behaviour an offence.

“The law recognises that domestic abuse is more damaging and complex than simply violence,” Home Affairs Minister Deputy Gregory Guida said.

“It will also allow for the creation of a domestic abuse register, similar to the sex offenders' register, to manage serious and repeat offenders so potential partners could be protected.”   

Work on the law has been ongoing for several years and a consultation to seek the views of islanders on the proposals was launched yesterday. Anyone wishing to share their opinion on the draft law has until 22 November to submit comments.

Here, Express explains what the proposals entail...

Defining domestic abuse

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Pictured: It is believed domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime.

Estimated to affect one-in-four women and one-in-six men in their lifetime, domestic abuse is a “complex and challenging issue which can wreck lives and devastate families”, according to the consultation paper.

Under the proposed law, an offence will be committed if someone (regardless of gender or sexuality) engages in a course of behaviour that is abusive of, or causes or is likely to cause physical, financial or psychological harm to another.

It will apply where both individuals are aged 16 or over and are “personally connected”, such as former or current intimate partners, members of the same family, foster parents or carers. 

The law notes the abuse may be a single act or a number of acts (or a failure to act) which form a pattern, regardless of whether each action appears trivial in isolation, something that was not recognised previously.

The consultation paper explains many types of behaviour can count as domestic abuse, including manipulation, control and use of threats and humiliation which harm, frighten or punish a victim as well as failing to do or communicate something that causes harm. 

The definition also includes economic abuse which will cater for victims that are denied access to basic resources such as food, clothing or transportation. This could also include where a victim is forced into taking out a loan for example.

Individuals who can show they reasonably believed they were acting in the other person’s best interests – such as protecting a person who has a gambling addiction from spending money – will be able to use it as a defence.

Due to the impact of children being used to direct abuse or abuse being directed at children, their involvement or presence in the abuse will constitute an aggravating factor.

 Coercive and controlling behaviour

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Pictured: The new law will also cover coercive and controlling behaviour.

There is currently no local legislation covering coercive and controlling behaviour.

Controlling behaviour is described as a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

Meanwhile, coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. 

Like with domestic abuse, behaviour will be classed as coercive or controlling if both individuals are 16 or over and the behaviour has a “serious effect” on a victim or is reasonably likely to.  

Coercive and controlling offences will require patterns of behaviour on two or more occasions to avoid prosecuting “ordinary arguments and friction”. 

A specific time frame between incidents will not be required and they won’t need to have been in immediate succession. 

Protection notices and orders

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Pictured: Under the proposed law, the police could issue notices to prevent a perpetrator from contacting a victim or approaching them before a charge is brought.

To protect victims of domestic abuse before a criminal charge is brought or during an investigation, the law is proposing to introduce Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPN) and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPO).

A DAPN would last for up to 48 hours and prevent the person is it served upon from contacting the victim or approaching them. If the victim and the perpetrator live together the notice could also be used to ensure the latter leaves the premises, or prevent them from re-entering, and does not evict the victim. 

The order would only be issues if there is “a reasonable belief” that domestic abuse has taken place and that is it is necessary to protect a person from abuse, violence or the threat of violence. 

If the police or the victim wish to extent the notice, they will have to apply to the Magistrate’s Court within 48 hours of it being served. The order resulting will not be limited in time, but if it lasts for more than a year, it will have to be reviewed every 12 months.

The consultation paper states that DAPN and DAPO’s would give a “further tool” to safeguard victims as well as the ability to separate parties where appropriate.

Domestic Abuse Register

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Pictured: A register of people convicted of a domestic abuse offence by the Court could be created.

The law is proposing the creation of a register of people convicted of a domestic abuse offence by the Court, which would be managed by the police. 

The register would allow the force to maintain up-to-date information about repeat and serious perpetrators, whilst also allowing them to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence.  

Under the proposals, the Court would place someone on the DAR for a given period of time at the end of which their name would automatically be removed, without the need to apply to the Court to request removal as is the case with sex offenders.

Any person convicted of domestic abuse would need to give the police not only their name and address but also the name and address of any person with whom they enter an intimate relationship.

The police will be able to share information with someone asking about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts as well as if they believe someone is at “credible risk of violence or harm."

CLICK HERE to share your views on the new law.

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