Do plans to place domestic abusers on the violent and sex offender register go far enough?

Published on 01.03.23
Published on 01.03.23

The government has announced that domestic abusers will be added to the violent and sex offender register with immediate effect. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said that anyone jailed for 12 months or more (or given a suspended sentence) for controlling or coercive behaviour will be placed on the violent and sex offender register. This will take place immediately.

In making the announcement, Mrs Braverman said: “Domestic abuse is a despicable crime that leads to people’s closest relationships becoming a frightening existence of torment, pain, fear, and anxiety. It is completely unacceptable and as home secretary I will do everything in my power to stop it.”

The government’s plans include proposals to electronically tag offenders. It is seemingly going for a two-pronged approach, which should ensure those convicted now will be tagged in the future.

Tagging enables the relevant front-line services to monitor offenders and, in turn, restrict and avoid their proximity to their victim.

In family proceedings, a victim of domestic abuse can pursue a non-molestation order for controlling and coercive behaviour. These cases tend to be resolved quickly by way of the court accepting promises and, in some cases, orders are made with powers of arrest.

However, from my experience, a breach of a non-molestation order rarely results in anything more than a slapped wrist and committal proceedings are not pursued, making the grant of custodial sentences rare.

This proposed legislation, therefore, falls short by failing to include abusers dealt with under the family system. This is a concern as domestic abusers in the family arena are no less dangerous than those caught and convicted in the criminal courts.

If you require further information about domestic abuse, please contact Teena Dhanota-Jones at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied on as formal advice. We suggest you take professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.