14/06/2004

Blunkett unveils 'tough' domestic violence Bill

The biggest overhaul of domestic violence law in 30 years, heralding "tough powers" for the police and the courts to protect victims and prosecute abusers, goes before the House of Commons today.

Proposals in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill are designed to strengthen the rights of victims and witnesses, ensuring they receive the help, support and protection they need.

Domestic violence costs the lives of two women every week, and accounts for one in five of all violent crime. However, Mr Blunkett said that the chance of becoming a victim of crime is now the lowest in 20 years.

Home Secretary David Blunkett will also announce new measures following a public consultation on compensation and support for victims of crime. These include: making offenders pay more towards compensation and support for victims through; making wider use of court compensation orders; and making criminals and those who commit anti-social behaviour pay back to their communities by placing a surcharge on criminal convictions, fines and Fixed Penalty Notices for criminal offences.

Mr Blunkett said: "I feel proud and privileged to bring forward this legislation today. These reforms are long overdue. The effect of crime on the lives of its victims can be devastating. Victims and witnesses need support, and I am committed to ensuring that they get it.

"This Bill is a crucial part of the government's determination to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. It will help put law-abiding citizens first and ensure that victims have the justice system on their side."

A Victims Fund will also put more money into services such as practical support, information and advice to victims of rape and sexual offences, road traffic accident victims and those who have been bereaved as a result of crime.

Mr Blunkett added: "I realise that legislation alone is not enough. That is why we are tackling the root causes of crime, through record police numbers and concerted action to tackle problematic drug use and anti-social behaviour so fewer people are likely to become victims of crime. We are also investing £650 million on support for victims."

(gmcg)

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