The report before Members detailed the Domestic Abuse Act which had received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021.
The report detailed the new definition of domestic violence and gave more clarity as to what relationships were covered by the Act.
It was noted that both parties had to over the age of 16 anyone under that age would be covered under separate safeguarding legislation.
Both parties had to be personally connected to each other be that by marriage, in a civil partnership, had agreed to marry one another, had entered into a civil partnership agreement or had been in an intimate personal relationship or were relatives.
The Act also introduced the role of an independent Domestic Abuse Commissioner whose role was to who was responsible for representing victims, educating the public with regards to domestic abuse and monitoring the responses of local authorities and other statutory agencies.
The Sub-Committee noted that in September 2019 Nicole Jacobs had been appointed as the Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
The Act also prohibited offenders from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts.
The Act also introduced Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPN) A DAPN could be put in place immediately after an incident. After 48 hours a victim could apply to the courts to apply for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) which had replaced the former Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPN).
The DAPN could prevent the accused party of contact with the victim or come within a specified distance of any premises and evict, exclude, prohibit from entering or require the accused leaving the victim to leave a premises if both parties lived at the same premises.
In quarter 1 there had been 71 DAPNs issued across the borough Command Unit (BCU) of which 57 had been escalated to DAPOs. Havering had accounted for 23 of the DAPOs.
The Act also put “Claire’s Law” on a firmer footing, this allowed a third party or individual to ask the police to check whether a current or former partner had a violent or abusive past. Any disclosure had to be reasonable, proportionate and based on a credible risk of harm. The police could also be proactive in providing this information to a possible victim if it was flagged up in a previous incident.
Members noted that the Act introduced special measures in criminal courts such as victims being able to give evidence in private, via a video link or from behind a screen.
The Act also required that local authorities to grant a new lifetime tenancy to a tenant or a member of their household when re-housing a previous lifetime social tenant.
In response to a question relating to gender perception of domestic violence officers confirmed that all reports of domestic violence whether from a male or a female were treated equally.
In response to a question relating to domestic abuse strategies officers confirmed the Act placed a duty on local authorities to produce domestic abuse strategies. MOPAC had produced a strategy n violence against women and girls domestic abuse which would in turn feed into Havering’s strategy.
The Sub-Committee noted the contents of the report.