A LOT of people ‘do not even realise’ they are in controlling relationships, Gibraltar’s Minister of Justice warned as her Domestic Abuse Act came into force this week.
Minister for Justice Samantha Sacramento – who has spearheaded the criminal reform – said it ‘will radically transform domestic abuse in Gibraltar’.
The new law introduces a new criminal offence of carrying out ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ as well as making strangulation an offence, even if it is not fatal.
It protects children ‘who see, hear or experience domestic abuse’ by recognising them as victims, the government said.
The Rock’s Ministry of Justice has brought in UK experts to train local authorities since November last year.
It has tackled the different sectors that the Domestic Abuse Act affects, from the police to the judiciary and court service.
Staff members from the Gibraltar Health Authority, the Care Agency, probation services, housing and education departments also took part in the bespoke training.
A lot of effort went into showing how to prove ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’, because it can often be so normalised in marital relationships.
“A lot of victims who are in coercive controlling relationships do not even realise this,” Sacramento said.
“I hope that they work out what we are doing and our awareness campaigns will assist in this respect,” she added.
And Operation Encompass training will now allow police officers to relay to schools when children are abused so they can get extra care.
New powers the Act that allow senior police officers ‘in urgent circumstances’ to order a domestic abuser to leave his home to protect victims will be put in force after further training later in the year.
Sacramento took presented the new law with Commissioner of Police Richard Ullger pointing out the strengths of the law.
“After many years of dedicated hard work I am very pleased to commence this important piece of legalisation that significantly changes and improves the landscape,” the minister said.
“The substantive consultation has shaped the provisions of the law and it will be given effect in true partnership by all agencies.”
And Ullger said the new law ‘strengthens the position for the police’ giving his Domestic Abuse Unit ‘more powers to protect victims’.
“Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and we will do everything that we can to eradicate it,” the Police Commissioner added.
- Domestic abusers will face the full strength of the law in Gibraltar thanks to a new bill
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- Judges, magistrates and police officers get expert teaching before new domestic abuse law comes into effect