Currently, the police can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) and then make an application for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO). A DVPO will make an order prohibiting from molesting the person for whose protection it is made as well as other prohibitions which can be imposed, such as requiring the person to leave the home or coming within such a distance of the home. A DVPO can be in force for no fewer than 14 days and no more than 28 days.

If the order is breached the offender can be arrested and brought before the Court. The penalty for breach of a Court Order is £50 for every day in default, up to a maximum of £5,000- or 2-months imprisonment.

The Domestic Abuse bill which is currently going through parliament proposes to introduce a new Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) which is likely to be considered more draconian. The proposed breaches of such order will be more severe.

The DAPO is to become the predominant order when dealing with cases of domestic abuse. Whilst non-molestation & occupation orders which are usually dealt with through the family court will remain in place, the intention is for those orders to apply to cases which do not involve domestic abuse. Therefore, the proposal is that these orders will cover all domestic abuse cases.

A summary of the key differences is set out below:

  1. Breach – Breach of these Orders will be a criminal offence much like breach of a non-molestation Order. The maximum penalty will be 5 years imprisonment.
  2. Length of Order – The Order can be made for a specified period, until the occurrence of a specified event or until further order; This is significantly different to the maximum 28 days for a DVPO. Currently there are proposals to allow variation/discharge which is not currently available for a DVPO.
  3. Electronic Monitoring – It is proposed that electronic monitoring could be imposed to ensure compliance with any Court Order.
  4. Positive Requirements – Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the proposed new orders, is that it can place a positive requirement such as attendance on an intervention programme.
  5. Who can apply? – Unlike DVPO’s, anyone can apply with leave of the Court. The proposed legislation allows for police & victims to apply without leave of the Court. There are also likely to be some other persons specified such as Local Authorities.

The Government estimates that over 55,000 DAPOs will be made per year which is based on the current use of DVPOs, Non-molestation orders, Occupation Orders and Restraining Orders.