Domestic Abuse Commissioner responds to Sentencing Bill and Criminal Justice Bill

Today, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have announced the first reading of two Bills in relation to the criminal justice system:

  • The Sentencing Bill, which will introduce a presumption against short sentences, excluding those who breach a court order or those who put an individual at significant risk of psychological or physical harm.
  • The Criminal Justice Bill, which among a range of criminal justice measures, will ban the taking or recording of intimate images without consent and ensure perpetrators of domestic homicide who kill their partner at the end of their relationship spend longer in prison.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, says: “The criminal justice system needs to improve its response to domestic abuse as a matter of urgency. Just four per cent of domestic abuse offenses reported to the police result in a conviction. Public trust in the police is at an all-time low following a series of reports of horrendous domestic abuse and sexual violence crimes perpetrated by police officers themselves.

“The government must utilise the criminal justice bill and the sentencing bill to live up to its commitment to tackling domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. That includes robust legislation to address police-perpetrated domestic abuse.

“It is absolutely right that the Justice Secretary has committed to ensuring victims of domestic abuse do not lose out on the justice and protection they need in the Sentencing Bill. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are often repeat offenders and their sentences often do not reflect the severity of harm and the risk they pose.

“No victim of domestic abuse should go through the justice system only to see their perpetrator given a sentence which fails to hold them to account and does not keep them safe. I want to see a specific exemption of perpetrators of domestic abuse and sexual violence from the government’s presumption against short sentences.

“Government must also ensure that the probation service is funded and trained to provide robust pre-sentencing reports, risk assessment, and appropriate rehabilitative orders for domestic abuse perpetrators, including sufficiently funded perpetrator programmes to prevent future harm.

“Renewed emphasis on tougher sentencing for perpetrators of domestic homicide and a new crime for intimate image abuse are steps in the right direction.  For too long sentencing has not reflected the fatal harm posed by perpetrators of domestic abuse.  

“I am calling for the introduction of the full suite of recommendations in the Wade Review into domestic homicide sentencing, so that perpetrators of domestic abuse who kill their partners are appropriately held to account.”

“I look forward to working closely with government as these important pieces of legislation pass through parliament. We need to see ambitious and wide reaching criminal justice reforms which extend beyond those announced today in order to hold perpetrators to account, prevent future harm, and truly deliver for domestic abuse victims.”