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Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996 contains a series of measures which the Conservative Government of the time brought in with the aim of improving civil law remedies for victims of domestic violence. Most of these were brought into force shortly after the General Election by the Labour Government. However, section 60 has never been brought into force. This provision would allow third parties to bring an application for orders under Part IV on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

The Labour Government said that it had not brought section 60 into force in order to give courts, police and practitioners time to become familiar with the new legal remedies “before considering the introduction of new procedures and responsibilities of this nature.” Its Domestic Violence Advisory Group concluded that the problems experienced by victims of domestic violence would not be most effectively addressed by implementing section 60.

The Labour Government went on to introduce a series of changes to the law, mainly in the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, to address these problems. It went on to legislate for Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) in the Crime and Security Act 2010. Under the Act, the police can issue a notice prohibiting a suspected domestic violence perpetrator from molesting the victim, and (possibly) requiring him to leave the premises they cohabit. The police then apply to the court for a DVPO lasting between 14 and 28 days, which again prohibits molestation and can make provision about access to shared accommodation. However, these provisions were not brought into force before the General Election of 2010. The present Government reviewed the policy before piloting DVPOs in three police areas. The pilots were originally due to end in June 2012, but have been extended for another year.

The then Home Office minister David Hanson said, in February 2010, that the Labour Government was considering how and when it might implement section 60. The present Government has said it will consider the case for implementing section 60 after the DVPO pilots have been concluded and evaluated. This is not expected to be before late summer 2013.

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