Convicted domestic abusers could be forced to take lie detector tests to try to stop them reoffending under new government plans.
Plans to introduce the legislation were shelved last year when parliament was prorogued and the general election called.
In the latest version of the Domestic Abuse Bill, due to have its first reading in the Commons today, proposals include banning perpetrators from cross-examining their victims during family court proceedings and requiring councils to find safe accommodation for victims and their children.
Court protection orders which prohibit perpetrators from contacting a victim or forcing them to take part in alcohol or drug treatment programmes may also be introduced.
Economic abuse, when a perpetrator controls a victim’s finances, will also be defined in the bill as a specific offence.
But perhaps most controversially, the bill would require convicted abusers to take polygraph tests to monitor their behaviour.
If the legislation passes, a three-year trial involving 300 abusers deemed at high-risk of causing serious harm will be carried out. They will have to take a lie detector test three months after release from prison and then every subsequent six months.
However, anyone failing the test will not be recalled to prison unless it reveals they have breached their specific licence conditions.
If the pilot is successful it could be rolled out nationally.
Polygraph tests do not measure lying directly, but rather physical responses such as a change in blood pressure or breathing rate, or an increase in perspiration – signs that the subject might be trying to deceive the interviewer.
Over the years there have been questions about their accuracy, although the government insists they have been “successfully used” with sex offenders since 2013.
Ministers have described the new Domestic Abuse Bill as the “most comprehensive package ever to tackle this horrendous crime”, saying the “enhanced” proposals will “go even further to support and protect victims and punish perpetrators” and had been “widely supported by charities, MPs and law enforcement”.
However, some have said the proposals do not go far enough, particularly when it comes to protecting children.
Emily Hilton, senior policy officer at the NSPCC, said the government was missing a “landmark opportunity” to make a difference.
She added: “It is extremely disappointing that the Bill in its current form fails to protect children from the devastating impact of living with domestic abuse, leaving thousands at continued risk because the help they deserve is not in place.”
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