I very much welcome the Domestic Abuse Act. This landmark piece of legislation will strengthen the response to perpetrators and improve support to victims. As you may be aware, the Act will introduce mandatory polygraph examinations of high-risk domestic abuse offenders on licence.
Initially this will be launched as a three-year pilot which will provide sufficient time to build up the necessary numbers of released offenders to conduct a robust evaluation. If successful, mandatory polygraph examinations will be rolled out to all high risk domestic abuse perpetrators in England and Wales.
However, I know ministers want to make sure that there are no gaps and that the right systems are in place to enable the police and partner agencies to accurately identify the risks posed by high harm, repeat and serial perpetrators, and to act accordingly to protect victims.
I do believe there is more to be done to fill the gaps and ensure the system works as intended. Instead of amending the current legislation to add an additional category, I believe there is more value in making better use of the existing Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) framework and related police systems.
The Government has committed to updating and strengthening the MAPPA statutory guidance so as to include sections on domestic abuse. That will ensure that all agencies involved take the necessary steps to identify offenders who are domestic abuse perpetrators whose risk requires active multi-agency management, and to put in place an action plan that reflects the risk.
It is also important to remember that the Government is taking further legislative action through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Bill will clarify the information-sharing powers of those agencies subject to the duty to co-operate under MAPPA. It will also explicitly extend these information-sharing powers to those agencies or individuals who can contribute to the assessment and management of risk—for example, GPs.
I am fully committed to holding perpetrators to account for their actions. You may be encouraged to hear that the Government will shortly bring forward a new, ambitious strategy to tackle the abhorrent crime of domestic abuse. Within this strategy, ministers will outline plans and ambitions to prevent offending as well as to protect victims and ensure that they have the support they need. Tackling perpetrators and preventing offending will form a key pillar of the strategy.
The Domestic Abuse Act commits the Government to prepare and publish a document setting out a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy within 12 months of the Act being passed and I understand that this will be published as part of the holistic domestic abuse strategy.
I will continue monitor developments in this area and welcome the ongoing and planned work of the Government in this area.