Restraining orders expanded to combat domestic violence

By staff

Restraining orders are to be massively expanded in an effort to give greater protection to women suffering from domestic violence.

Currently, courts can only issue restraining orders following conviction for two types of offences: harassment or putting someone in fear of violence. Under the new rules an order can be made following conviction for any offence and even where someone is acquitted.

“These new restraining orders will mean that a woman does not have to go from pillar to post, immediately giving her protection from harassment,” said Harriet Harman, women’s minister.

The change, which will come into force from September 30th, should end the need for a separate civil action in cases of abuse.

Nicola Harwin, chief executive of Women’s Aid, welcomed the announcement.
“These restraining orders will provide a valuable new tool to help protect victims,” she said.

The government has had considerable success in tackling domestic violence in recent years, with conviction rates shooting up after a concerted effort from the Home Office.

Seventy-two per cent of cases charged and brought to court at the end of 2008/09 resulted in a conviction, compared with 60 per cent four years ago.

Breaking the terms of a restraining order is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison.