Duncan Lewis

Family Law

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New amendment made to Domestic Violence act has closed the legal loophole which allowed abusers escape prosecution

Date: (29 June 2012)    |    

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Child abusers who were getting away with crime against the vulnerable children would now face 10 years in prison. The new law would be applicable to abusers of vulnerable adults too.
The new law which would be effective from Monday will see that hitherto abusers who were taking shelter under a legal loophole avoiding prosecution has been closed according to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke.
The law would be taking effect in England and Wales and would also enable prosecutions of people who stay silent or put the blame on others.
The justice secretary said the move was a boost to child protection.
He said that those people who have the interest of vulnerable people in their hearts would agree that an obvious gap in the law was closed and from now on if steps are not taken to stop a child being killed there would be people who would be held equally responsible.
The new offence, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012, is due to come into force on Monday.
Guidance is being sent to prosecutors, judges and others on the new law.
The gap which allowed people escape from being prosecuted was due to the difficulty in indentifying the individual responsible for the abuse. There were numerous instances where prosecutions could not be brought because of the loophole.
Ministry of Justice cited the cases of a five month old baby who had suffered a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull and a two week old who was found with a broken collar bone ribs and legs.
Nobody was charged in either case, despite doubts about the injuries which were not thought to be accidental.
The 2007 death of Baby Peter in north London, after months of abuse, was widely publicised.
The child had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over an eight month period.
Two years later his mother, her boyfriend and a lodger were jailed for causing or allowing the Peter's death.
But if a child was abused like Baby Peter and lived, there would have been no way to bring those who had caused the horrific injuries to justice.
Clarke said that everything possible is being done to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the society were kept safe in their homes, and those that abuse their power do not evade justice.
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said the change in the law was "a real victory for children and has the potential to bring many more child abusers to justice".
Abusers could no more cause horrific injuries on children and get away with it by staying silent or blaming each other, he said.