Law, legislation and policy
Social work is underpinned by law and working within the parameters of law is fundamental to any social work.
Legislation serves as a framework of safety, categorising chosen actions as criminal and subsequently, these possess consequences, which aim to act as a deterrent and as justice for victims.
Historically, the UK's laws which protect individuals against domestic abuse have come under great societal scrutiny. Resultantly, positive changes have been made to progress the law and increase individuals protection over recent decades within the UK. Such as the progressive recognition that coercive control is abuse and can now lead to criminalisation.
Below is a brief snapshot of the UK's current legislation's, which aim to control domestic abuse and violence.
It's their choice
Mental Capacity Act (2005)
The Mental Capacity Act (2005) underpins all social care services with adults. It is absolutely fundamental that as a social worker you recognise and understand the Mental Capacity Acts importance and how to practice within the boundaries of this law.
The Mental Capacity Act ensures that individuals capacity must be assessed in a continual manner, that each decision is treated with singularity and that a persons capacity to understand situations and make decisions fluctuates and is not universal. It demands that practitioners support a persons autonomy and choices when they have the ability to understand and make an informed choice about their own lives, that this is respected and adhered to. The Mental Capacity Act when applied to victims of DVA supports the need for proportionate interventions and contextual, holistic understandings.
When a person is deemed to lack capacity to make a particular decision, then a best interest meeting must occur and an appropriate decision made on their behalf to ensure their protection.
The Human Rights Act
The Human Rights Act (1998) supports female abuse victims by outlining clear inherent rights all humans have which noone has the right to infringe and are protected by this law. This includes a persons right for sutonomy, their right for choice, their right not to be tortured or harmed.
The Serious Crime Act
The Serious Crime Act 2015, section 76 can carry a fine or imprison someone for a maximum of five years, or both, for perpetrating coercive behaviours in intimate and familial relationships (Home Office, 2015, pg2).
Domestic Violence Disclosures
DVD / Claire's Law
Domestic violence disclosures or Claire's Law as it is commonly referred to, enables anyone with a legitimate concern about potential domestic abuse, to request the partner of the proposed abuser receive appropriate information about any previous convictions which may relate to DVA.
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 protects anyone threatened by Forced Marriage Protection Order.
Forced marriage legislation s121.
Social work is a fundamentally humanitarian specialism, which is underpinned by morally robust procedures which support the protection of society. The professional capabilities framework (2012), and BASW guidelines, (2012) demand anti-oppressive safeguarding of individuals, famillies and communities.
Below is a brief overview of some of the criminal measures in place within the UK to combat DVA.
Under the Family Law Act 1996 and Protection Harassment Act 1997, a non-molestation order is available. These are court ordered preventatives to stop a partner or ex-partner who is perpetrating intimidating or abusive behaviour, treats and harassment, breeching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.
Domestic Violence Protection (DVP) Notices and Orders are commonly used by police. DVPO orders enable a short period of time (28 days) to prevent a perpetrator from returning home. This gives people time and space to make decisions and feel safe.
Common assault – under the criminal justice act 1988 section 39
Treats to kill – Offences Against the Person Act 1861 section 16
Harassment – Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Threatening behaviour –Public Order Act 1986 section 4
Sexual assault – Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 3
Forced marriage – Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 and the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 section 10