VICTIMS of domestic abuse are to be given more time to report assaults under amendments being added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Government has announced.
Currently, prosecutions must commence within six months of the offence but this requirement will now be moved to six months from the date the incident is formally reported to the police and there will be an overall time limit of two years from the offence to bring a prosecution.
The changes are being made because domestic abuse is often reported late relative to other crimes, meaning victims do not always have enough time to seek justice and ensure perpetrators are answerable for their actions.
The Government also announced that taking non-consensual photographs or video recordings of breastfeeding mothers is to be made a specific offence punishable by up to two years in prison. The new law will cover situations where the motive is to obtain sexual gratification, or to cause humiliation, distress or alarm.
Similar legislation introduced by the Government in 2019 that criminalised ‘upskirting’ has led to more than 30 prosecutions since it became law.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to protect women, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system.
“We’re giving the victims of domestic abuse longer to report the offence to the police – so abusers don’t evade justice. And we will introduce a new offence to stop people filming or taking photos of mothers breastfeeding without their consent – because no new mum should be harassed in this way.
Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs said: “I strongly welcome the additions made to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill today, which allow victims of domestic abuse more time to report to the police.
“It is important that all domestic abuse victims have the time and opportunity to report to the police. This is especially important following Covid restrictions, when many victims faced additional challenges to seeking help and reporting domestic abuse.
“I want to see increased prosecutions for domestic abuse, and hope to see that as these measures remove another barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice.”