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Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims Bill

Letter from Westminster - 21 June 2004

Domestic violence was top of the House of Commons agenda last week, when the Government's Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims Bill was debated by MPs. While it accounts for almost a quarter of violent crime, claiming the lives of two women every week, domestic violence is a largely hidden crime. Yet its consequences are grave indeed, tearing apart many families and brutalising them in their own homes - the very place they should feel safe.

The Government's Bill represents the biggest overhaul of domestic violence law in 30 years and is central to our plans to develop and implement an effective strategy to tackle this crime. It introduces tough powers for the police and the courts to convict and punish abusers while strengthening the rights of victims and witnesses, ensuring the receive the help, support and protection they need.

I also hope that such a public stand against violence in the home will send an important message to potential perpetrators. As the Home Secretary said in his opening statement, such behaviour used to be tolerated, often condoned, and certainly pushed under the carpet. By placing the full force of the law behind the rights of (mostly) women to live free from the fear of abuse, we can do more than tackle the wrongs of today. Our aim is little short of cultural change: to ensure everybody regards such conduct as unacceptable, so we can avoid these horrific crimes occurring altogether.

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