Arrest for breach of order

Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 10th June 2020.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

With this, it will be convenient to discuss schedule 1 stand part.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Clause 37 relates to arrest for breach of order and it makes provision for breach of a domestic abuse protection order to be dealt with as a civil matter— that is, as a contempt of court. A breach of an order is a criminal offence under clause 36, which we did not debate, whereby a police officer can make an arrest without a warrant under powers in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

However, we understand that some victims may be concerned about their partner or ex-partner being convicted of a criminal offence for breaching the order. Where an order is made by the High Court, the family court or the county court, clause 37 makes provision for the victim—the original applicant for the order—or any other person with leave of the judge to apply to the court for a warrant of arrest to be issued. That means that the court can then deal with the breach as a civil matter as a contempt of court. We consider that this allows effective action to be taken by the court following breach of an order, while still providing an option for victims who do not wish to criminalise their partner or ex-partner.

Schedule 1 makes further provision regarding remand under clause 37, where breach of a DAPO is being dealt with by the court as a civil matter. It sets out the procedure whereby the court may remand the person who has been arrested for breach. The process set out is consistent with existing law and replicates the approach the court already takes in regard to remand in such cases. It is sometimes necessary for the court to adjourn the hearing in order to allow for evidence to be prepared. In such cases, the court may decide to remand the person in custody or on bail.

Remand would usually only be used in cases where the court considers that the person arrested for breach is at a high risk of either committing further breaches or evading the return hearing. That may include, for example, if the court considers that person a flight risk.

Clause 37 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.