Well, it just goes to show how much I know. Only two days ago I speculated that domestic violence would be one of the few areas in the family justice system where there would be no change. Today, I find that Home Secretary Theresa May has decided to resurrect the previous government's plans for domestic violence protection orders (otherwise known as "go orders").
Under the plans, the police will have powers to prevent alleged abusers from having contact with the victim, or returning to the victim's home, for 48 hours. A court would then be able to extend the order for a period of up 28 days. The plans will undergo a year-long pilot scheme, starting next summer in the Greater Manchester, Wiltshire and West Mercia police areas.
According to the BBC, the proposed "go orders" could be used even if there was not enough evidence to charge a suspect. Obviously, this raises concerns for innocent alleged abusers, particularly as it may be difficult for them to return to their homes, once they have been ordered to leave. It may also lead to a spate of unfounded allegations by parties who just want to force their partners out of their homes (which could then have a knock-on effect upon other issues, such as arrangements for children, or who is to keep the home). Hopefully, the pilots will address these issues.
The Guardian tells us that 'May said that tackling violence against women was a priority for her personally and for the government', and the BBC article quotes British Crime Survey figures which suggest that more than one in four women in the UK will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life. Both seem to be forgetting that men are of course also victims of domestic violence. However, one wonders how often will the police use these powers against women?