The most dangerous domestic abusers will be recorded on the violent and sex offender register under a raft of new proposals to crack down on the crime.
Around 2.4 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the last year, and around one in five homicides are related to it, according to the Home Office.
The law will be changed so the police, prison and probation services have to jointly manage offenders with a conviction of controlling or coercive behaviour sentenced to at least a year or a suspended sentence, in order to better protect the public.
It means that anyone jailed for 12 months or more for coercive control, including suspended sentences, will be placed on the violent and sex offender register and will have to tell police their name, any aliases and any addresses they stay at for more than a week.
Offenders will also have to inform police about any travel overseas, bank details and whether they stay in a household with a child for more than 12 hours.
New civil orders being trialled in three areas in the UK could also see offenders electronically tagged and made to attend behaviour change programmes.
Violence against women and girls is now for the first time categorised as a national threat in the new strategic policing requirement published by the Home Secretary on Monday (20 January). The change means police forces will be required to treat it on a par with terrorism, serious and organised crime and child sexual abuse.
A new digital tool to help police officers identify likely perpetrators - even those without convictions - will also be developed by the Home Office.
Suella Braverman said: “Domestic abuse is a despicable crime that leads to people’s closest relationships becoming a frightening existence of torment, pain, fear, and anxiety. It is completely unacceptable and as Home Secretary I will do everything in my power to stop it.”
The government also plans to invest up to £8.4 million over two years to fund specialist victim support programmes, and make police prioritise tackling violence against women and girls.
Meanwhile, the Ask for Ani codeword scheme – which allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal they need help – will now be piloted in Jobcentre offices across the UK. It was launched initially in 2021 in pharmacies, with emergency support accessed on average once a week since then.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “No woman or girl should ever have to feel unsafe in her home or community and I am determined to stamp out these appalling crimes.
“The Ask for Ani scheme provides a lifeline for anyone suffering from domestic abuse and we will continue to expand the scheme so that more people can access it, including piloting this service in the first Jobcentres.
“As well as extra support for victims, we’re making it a priority for the police to tackle violence against women and girls and toughening up the way offenders are managed – preventing more of these crimes from happening in the first place, and bringing more perpetrators to justice.”
Responding to the government announcement, Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Labour first pushed for a domestic abuse register years ago and so we welcome the eventual commitment to introduce one. But the government isn’t moving quickly enough.
“Ministers promised to make violence against women and girls part of the strategic policing requirement a year ago, after months of pressure from Labour, so it should never have been delayed for this long.
“They still haven’t agreed to Labour’s plan to put domestic abuse specialists into 999 control rooms, nor have they taken action to reverse the shocking collapse in rape charges or record levels of victims dropping out of the criminal justice system.”
The 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be contacted on 0808 2000 247.