Wales

Alun Michael wants domestic abuse bill to be strengthened

Abused woman Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The Gender-Based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Bill was described by ministers as "ground-breaking"

A police and crime commissioner has called on the Welsh government to strengthen its bill on domestic abuse.

It originally included plans to provide mandatory healthy relationships education in all schools, but that aspect has since been removed.

South Wales PCC Alun Michael said: "As it was introduced, I think the bill was not as strong as the white paper."

The minister responsible, Leighton Andrews, said he had already made changes to strengthen the legislation.

Speaking to BBC's The Wales Report programme, Mr Michael said: "If we can go that step further and it's the whole school rather than just issues about the curriculum that are important, then we can start early in changing the attitudes that lead to people becoming perpetrators."

Nadia Salaman, whose sister Assia Newton was strangled by her estranged husband after decades of abuse, said education was key to protecting young people from ending up in abusive relationships.

"We do need to educate people on what abuse is and what is and what isn't acceptable in a relationship and what is a healthy relationship," she said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Alun Michael said he believed ministers were determined to get the bill right

In its report, the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee said the removal of the education proposals from the bill was "the most significant omission" since it was introduced.

Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said the bill was still in its early stages.

"... as I have said, we intend to bring forward an amendment which will give us a framework for approaching the education issues.

"And that means there will be a duty on local authorities to report on what is being done in schools."

Domestic abuse accounted for over a third of all reported assaults with injury in Wales in the year ending August 2013.

In the Gwent Police force area it was 41% of reported assaults, in South Wales and North Wales it was 36% and in Dyfed-Powys it was 29%.

The Wales Report can be viewed on BBC1 Wales at 22:35 GMT on Wednesday, 10 December.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Assia Newton's estranged husband Kelvin Newton was jailed for life for her murder

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