POLICE will have new powers to tighten their grip on domestic abusers with a new law published by the Gibraltar government on Thursday.

Once passed in parliament, the Domestic Abuse Act will ‘close a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour that occurs during a relationship,’ the government said in a statement.

It will not only be limited to spouses either and include ‘intimate partners, former partners who still live together or family members’.

The wide ranging bill follows an extensive public consultation process.

Police, lawyers and judges all contributed to the final document which makes all forms of domestic violence punishable crimes.

“It sets out the importance of recognising the harm caused by coercion or control,” the government explained.

For the first time victims will not need to wait for one physical attack to bring their abusers to justice.

Instead, the law will recognise that ‘a repeated pattern of abuse can be more injurious and harmful than a single incident of violence’.

Strangulation or choking, even if it does not cause physical injury, will also become an offence.

Protection orders

As well as redefining abuse, the law gives senior police officers powers to issue emergency domestic abuse protection notices.

These short-term orders could lead to victims having to leave their homes. The notices will later be reviewed in court.

Victims will be able to ask for more long-term protection orders in court as long as they can prove the abuse and that there is further danger to the victims.

“I am certain that the provisions contained in this Bill will greatly assist victims of domestic abuse going forward by providing them with greater protection,” Minister for Justice Samantha Sacramento said.

“In addition to the proposed legislation that provides the necessary framework, there will be a package of training and awareness that is led through the Ministry of Justice,” she added.

Police and first responders will soon be able to understand how to interpret crimes thanks to the extensive training programme.

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