MPs call for law changes to protect domestic violence victims from bailed attackers

MPs are leading calls for the Government to change existing laws in a bid to ensure that domestic abuse victims are not put at risk after reporting attacks to the police.

In April a 28-day police bail cap for suspects was introduced. This has led to a sharp decrease in the use of bail conditions with thousands of alleged violent criminals released without restrictions.

Those campaigning for changes in the existing laws believe that the current legislation endangers survivors and could discourage them from reporting crimes to the police.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that in the six months after the limit came into force, the use of police bail plummeted by 65 per cent in domestic abuse cases.

They are calling for the Home Secretary to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to create a legal presumption that alleged domestic abusers or sex attackers can only be released from police custody when bail conditions are in force.

These conditions will limit the threat a suspect can pose, by confining them to one address, seizing their passport and banning them from contacting victims or entering certain areas.

In a letter to the Government, MP Sarah Champion said: “The results of the existing laws are that vulnerable survivors of domestic abuse, child sexual abuse and/or sexual violence are now unnecessarily exposed to reprisals from suspects, who are frequently known to them, if the suspect is released from custody while the police investigation is ongoing.

“If the police are unable to put simple restrictions on suspects, survivors will live in fear of being contacted or visited by their abuser. This is alarming when so many survivors know their abuser personally.

“The government needs to be building confidence in the criminal justice system, and keeping survivors safe is the first step to doing that.”

The letter was also signed by representatives from the Centre for Women’s Justice, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rape Crisis, Refuge and Women’s Aid.