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What part three of the Domestic Abuse Protection Orders Regulations 2024 means

Cara Ramprakash, Solicitor in our Family team, delineates the anticipated introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, their distinctions from Domestic Violence Protection Orders, the process of acquiring one, and their potential impacts.

On 8 April 2024, the Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (County Court: Relevant Proceedings) Regulations 2024 (SI 2024/253) will come into force introducing the Domestic Abuse Protection Order (“DAPO”). They have been introduced under Part 3 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (DAA 2021) and repeal the existing Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).

The DAA 2021 defines domestic abuse as behaviour by A towards B, provided they are over 16 years of age and personally connected to each other, and the behaviour is abusive. Abusive behaviour is listed within the legislation as:

  • Physical or sexual abuse;
  • Violent or threatening behaviours;
  • Controlling or coercive behaviours;
  • Economic abuse; and
  • Psychological, emotional or other abuse.

The DAA 2021 makes it clear that it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

DAPOs have been introduced to provide a flexible and more longer-term, where proportionate, protection for victims. DVPOs only had a maximum duration of 28 days. DAPOs will allow the courts to respond to changes over time and the level of risk posed to domestic abuse victims. DAPOs can be used to protect victims from all forms of domestic abuse, including controlling or coercive behaviour.

How can you obtain a DAPO?

As currently, the police will continue to be able to make an application for a DAPO to a magistrates’ court. However, alternative application routes are being introduced so that victims and particular third parties can apply for a DAPO directly to the Family Court. Additionally, under the new rules, Family, Criminal and Civil Courts will be able to make a DAPO of their own volition during court proceedings that do not have to be domestic abuse related. The court will have to be satisfied that the order is necessary and proportionate to protect the victim.

DAPO applications are exempt from court fees.    

What can a DAPO do?

A DAPO will have the ability to impose prohibitions on a perpetrator as well as positive requirements. Examples of such may be that it prohibits the perpetrator from coming within a certain distance of the victim’s home or workplace. It may also require the perpetrator to attend a mental health assessment or behaviour change programme. This flexibility allows the DAPO to be tailored to each case and adequately protect the victim based on the specific facts.

Prior to imposing a positive requirement, the court will need evidence regarding the sustainability and enforceability from the supervisor for the requirement. The new rules allow the court to use electronic monitoring (‘’tagging’’) to monitor compliance with requirements that the DAPO has imposed. DAPOs also require the perpetrator to provide the police with their full name and homes address and any updates to these, should any changes are made. This enables the police to monitor the perpetrator’s whereabouts and any risk that they may pose. Breach of this requirement carries penalties mentioned below.

What if the perpetrator does not comply with the DAPO?

Previously, DVPOs did not have criminal sanctions in the event of a breach. Now under DAPO guidelines, any  breach will be a criminal offence. There will a maximum penalty of either five years’ imprisonments, a fine, or both.  Under the new DAPO guidelines, a breach can also be dealt with as a civil contempt of court. The victim’s views would be considered together with public interest, when deciding which penalty would be appropriate.

What next?

The government has announced that it is their intention to for DAPOs to be the ‘go-to’ protective order in domestic abuse cases. Non-Molestation Orders and Restraining Orders will still be in force, so that the two can be used in cases where there is no domestic abuse, such as stalking and harassment.

Legal aid will apply to representation for an application made in the criminal courts, subject to means and merits tests. As a protective order, within private family law disputes, DAPOs can be added to the list of evidence of domestic abuse. They can therefore be used for the applicant to apply for legal aid, subject to a means and merits test.

With the new changes and rules coming into force, it is important to ensure that you are aware of the protections available to you, if you are suffering from domestic abuse, and should always seek legal advice.   

 

Please note, Seddons does not provide legal aid support.

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