Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 10th June 2020.
Clause 21 relates to matters that must be considered by the senior police officer before giving a notice. Again, I emphasise the difference between a notice and an order. First, the police officer must consider the welfare of any child whose interests the officer considers relevant to ensure that any safeguarding concerns are addressed appropriately. The child does not have to be personally connected to the perpetrator for their interests to be relevant and could therefore be the victim’s child from a previous relationship.
The police officer must also take reasonable steps to find out the opinion of the victim as to whether the notice should be given. However, as set out in subsection (4), the police officer does not have to obtain the victim’s consent to give a notice, which I think the Committee—I observe the nodding heads—is in agreement with. That enables the police to protect victims who may be coerced by the perpetrator into expressing the opinion that a notice should not be given or who are fearful of the consequences should they appear to be supporting action against the perpetrator.
Where the notice includes conditions in relation to the premises lived in by the victim, reasonable steps must be taken to find out the opinion of any other person who lives in the premises and is personally connected to the perpetrator, if the perpetrator also lives there. For example, if the perpetrator had caring responsibilities for a family member with whom they shared the premises, it would be important for the police to be aware of that. Consideration must also be given by the police officer to any representation that the perpetrator makes in relation to the giving of a notice, although that is not a formal process as with the courts.
I want to be absolutely clear that the primary consideration in determining whether notice should be given must be the protection of the victim and their children. We will ensure that that is set out clearly in the statutory guidance.