27/10/2004

Reform of domestic violence law promises 'tough powers' for police

The domestic violence law will be overhauled to give tough powers to the police and the courts to protect victims and prosecute abusers, the government has pledged.

Speaking on the day that the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill reached its Third Reading in the Commons, the Home Secretary David Blunkett called for a "change in culture and attitude" to domestic violence.

One of the measures in the Bill will establish an independent commissioner for victims to give them a "powerful voice at the heart of government". The Home Secretary also announced today that the government is setting up a review into the law on murder. The review follows the recommendation by the Law Commission in their report in August that the law needs fundamental reform.

Mr Blunkett said that the law needed to be "clear, comprehensive and fair" to ensure public confidence in the criminal justice system. However, he said the government remained committed to retaining the mandatory life sentence, and to the murder principles set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

"The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill signals our commitment to tackle domestic violence and sends out the strong message that it is never acceptable," he said.

"We need to bring a change in culture by making sure that men of all generations understand and respect their partners, while supporting victims and the most vulnerable."

The murder review, which will be led by the Home Office but involve outside organisations, will start next year and its terms of reference will be announced in due course.

(gmcg)

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