Domestic Abuse Bill - Proposed changes in the law for domestic abuse survivors driven to offend

Please note Katy Swaine Williams, who had been leading on this work, has left PRT and is taking this work forward independently, in partnership with the Centre for Women's Justice (CWJ).

For more information on the proposed amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill click here

I have been astounded by the number of female offenders who are victims of domestic abuse and how that is a significant trigger to their offending.

We have been working with legal and domestic abuse experts to call for improved legal protection for survivors of domestic abuse to be added to the Domestic Abuse Bill for those whose offending is driven by their experience of domestic abuse. This would address a gap in legal protection for survivors, strengthen recognition of the links between victimisation and offending and deter inappropriate prosecutions.

The Bill was reintroduced on 3 March 2020 and we are building parliamentary support for our proposed amendments to give legal protection to those driven by domestic abuse into offending.  Our proposed amendments have been tabled by Jess Phillips MP for consideration by the Public Bill Committee, which will report by 25 June. 

Two recent articles discuss why the new defences are needed.  PRT associate Sarah Beresford’s blog is based on her recent conversation with a child whose mother is in prison for an offence attributable to her experience of domestic abuse.  Barrister Paramjit Ahluwalia’s article for the Law Society Gazette explains why current defences are ineffective.

Please get in touch if you would like to support the proposals and if you are able to contribute case studies illustrating why improved legal protection is needed.

Download our short briefing here.

Download our detailed submission to the Public Bill Committee here.

Our proposals are supported by:
Agenda: the alliance for women and girls at risk
Paramjit Ahluwalia, Lamb Building
AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)
Birth Companions
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales
David Challen
Disabilities Trust
East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services
Professor Susan Edwards
Professor Marianne Hester OBE, University of Bristol
Howard League for Penal Reform
Nicole Jacobs, designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales
Christine Jardine MP
Justice for Women
Baroness Helena Kennedy of The Shaws
Peter Kyle MP, Shadow Minister (Justice)
Lambeth Council
Legal Aid Practitioners' Group
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek
Mayor of London
Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Minister (Home Office)
John Plummer, London Prisons Mission
Dr Jo Roberts, University of Bristol
UKPAC, Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland
Surviving Economic Abuse
Clare Wade QC, Garden Court Chambers
Welsh Women's Aid
Harriet Wistrich, Centre for Women's Justice
Women's Aid Federation for England
Women in Prison
Working Chance

Download our report 'There's a reason we're in trouble: Domestic abuse as a driver to women's offending'

Download the Criminal Bar Association's accompanying briefing on the need for a statutory defence

Listen to a podcast about the Domestic Abuse Bill launched by the Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester here


Contact details

To find out more, contact us: | 020 7251 5070