Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic abuse and the law

If you are hit or attacked by someone, then that is a crime regardless of where it happens. Sexually abusive behaviour is also illegal and punishable by law. There are more than a hundred specialised domestic violence courts across the country set up specifically to deal with cases of abuse.

A number of charities also give support to people suffering all types of abuse.

It is important to remember that if a person is being abused:

  • it is never their fault; no-one deserves to be assaulted
  • they have the right to protection under the law
  • the police are there to protect them and can provide help
  • it should not go unreported

Breaking free of domestic abuse

Getting out of a violent or abusive relationship can sometimes seem more frightening than staying in one. But the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the many charities concerned with abuse are all set up to:

  • protect the victim
  • investigate any crimes
  • prosecute those crimes
  • support the victim in starting a new life in safety, free from abuse

When is it a matter for the police?

It is the job of the police to protect victims of domestic abuse wherever it happens.

We work to get protection orders for victims and work with other agencies to ensure the safety of the victim and to pursue appropriate punishment for the abuser. This can include:

  • a prison sentence
  • court orders banning them from going near their victim
  • fines

Our Community Safety Units

The Metropolitan Police Service has made it a high priority to tackle domestic abuse with special Community Safety Units located in each of our 32 boroughs. We will investigate all instances of domestic abuse, even in cases where there is only a small amount of information or where a victim has not reported it themselves.

If you have been a victim of any type of domestic violence or abuse or if you know someone who has been, there's plenty of help and support available. Visit our page ‘More help and advice’.