Draft Sentencing Guidelines: Overarching Principles: Domestic Violence and Breach of a Protective Order; Third Report of Session 2005-06; Report, Together with Formal Minutes and Written Evidence

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The Stationery Office, Jun 28, 2006 - Law - 38 pages
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Domestic violence is a social problem of enormous proportion. In 2000 there were an estimated 12.9 million incidents, and 1.2 million women were affected by stalking. It accounts for a quarter of all violent crime. Victims and children suffer with physical and psychological abuse. The costs to society are high, recently estimated as amounting to 3.1 billion for services for survivors: including absence from employment, medical, psychiatric and addiction treatment, housing and other social and legal assistance. The loss to the economy has been estimated at 2.7 billion per year. Two draft guidelines on domestic violence were published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council on 11 April 2006. Overarching Principles: Domestic Violence deals with the general principles. There is no specific offence of domestic violence, and conduct amounting to domestic violence can be covered by a wide range of offences: not only assaults, but criminal damage, harassment, threats to injure or kill, false imprisonment, and sexual offences. The guidelines define domestic violence, and discuss assessing seriousness, aggravating and mitigating factors, and the wishes and interests of victims and children. Breach of a Protective Order, the second draft guideline, addresses breaches of restraining or non-molestation orders imposed in order to prevent harassment or fear of violence, or the molestation of others. The Committee endorses the general approach in these guidelines, particularly the explicit recognition that courts should treat domestic violence no less seriously than other cases of violent crime. The Committee makes a number of recommendations for amendments to the guidelines.

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