Prime Minister Theresa May has today announced plans to "completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse."
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics in March 2016 revealed that in England and Wales, 4.5 million women and 2.2 million men said they had been a victim of domestic abuse since the age of 16. However, only about 1 in 5 people who had been abused by a partner ever contacted the police.
The Prime Minister's office said today that our existing approach to domestic violence and abuse "does not go far enough," and is hampered by a lack of clarity. Because of this, May's office said, some areas of the country offer better help to victims than others.
May announced today that she has commissioned a "new programme of work" which will eventually lead to the creation of a standardising, nationwide Domestic Violence and Abuse Act.
"I believe that the plans I have announced today have the potential to completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse," May said in a statement.
"There are thousands of people who are suffering at the hands of abusers – often isolated, and unaware of the options and support available to them to end it. Given the central importance of victim evidence to support prosecutions in this area, raising public awareness – as well as consolidating the law – will prove crucial."
Refuge, the country's largest provider of specialist services for women and children escaping domestic violence, welcomed today's news, saying: "Refuge hopes this will be the sea-change needed to give victims the protection they need and deserve."
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, also responded positively, saying in a statement: "As Home Secretary, domestic abuse was a clear priority for the Prime Minister – and it is great news that she is now determined to continue that commitment."
Neate added: "There is still a great deal of work to do to raise awareness and improve understanding of domestic abuse – particularly coercive control – and we welcome the Prime Minister’s intention to tackle this."