Domestic abusers will be forced to wear electronic tags on leaving prison or risk being sent back to detention under a pilot scheme launched by the government to protect victims.
Up to 500 people will be made to wear the devices, which can monitor their whereabouts, enforce a curfew and ban them from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home.
The pilot will launch in the East and West Midlands before it is rolled out across England and Wales next year, the Ministry of Justice said.
Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, welcomed the pilot as a “positive step forwards in protecting victims”.
“By blocking perpetrators from contacting victims, the Unwanted Prisoner Contact scheme sets an important standard that the criminal justice system will not be used to further domestic abuse, making a difference for survivors’ safety, recovery, and freedom from abuse,” she said.
“For too long, the onus has been on victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves from harm.”
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “Survivors of domestic abuse show great strength and bravery in coming forward, and it is right that every tool is used to protect them from further harm.
“The tagging of prison leavers at risk of committing further domestic abuse is a further protection we are introducing to help victims rebuild their lives and feel safe in their communities.”
But Labour’s shadow justice secretary Steve Reed said the government had a “shameful record of ignoring domestic abuse”.
“This pilot is a pathetic effort to stem the rising tide of violence against women and girls that has skyrocketed on their watch,” he said.
“They’ve stood idly by as domestic violence has more than doubled since 2015 yet the number of prosecutions has plummeted by half.”
The development coincides with a special report by Sky News that revealed a police officer was able to take advantage of a domestic abuse survivor by having sex with her in a women’s refuge while on duty.
Shannon Mulhall was distressed and vulnerable when she called the police and was taken to the refuge – but when she arrived, one of the officers sent to protect her stripped naked and made sexual advances towards her.
Disgraced Humberside Police officer PC Simon Miller now faces years in jail after admitting the improper exercise of policing powers.
He becomes the latest in a line of police officers who have eroded public trust in the police through their actions.
In a move that seeks to address the public’s concerns, the government announced on Thursday that it would give police more powers to sack rogue officers.
Police officers who are found guilty of gross misconduct will face automatic dismissal while those who fail vetting checks can also be fired.
The move comes following a series of scandals engulfing the police, including the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens and the unmasking of former police constable David Carrick as a serial abuser and rapist.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley, who had been pushing for changes to police regulations to make it easier to sack rogue officers, welcomed the development.
“I’m grateful to the government for recognising the need for substantial change that will empower chief officers in our fight to uphold the highest standards and restore confidence in policing,” he said.