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Domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs 'relieved' about new law

image copyrightNICOLE JACOBS
image captionNicole Jacobs has worked for domestic abuse charities for two decades

The first domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales is "relieved" the prime minister has pledged to re-introduce a new law on the issue.

Nicole Jacobs told the BBC she expects to see the Domestic Violence Bill included in the new Queen's Speech when Parliament returns.

"I know that everyone will be watching and listening to see it in there," she said.

Boris Johnson has said he is "fully committed" to re-introducing the bill.

Ms Jacobs, who has worked for domestic abuse charities for two decades, will be responsible for championing victims of domestic abuse and recommending improvements to the government.

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Speaking of concern over the fate of the Domestic Violence Bill, which fell when Parliament was suspended, Ms Jacobs, 48, said: "Everyone was [concerned], and now that we have the commitment we can be a bit relieved.

"It was heartening how quickly politicians from all parties were asserting how much they wanted to see the bill in the Queen's Speech and back on track, as well as from the public and people in the court system.

"It is very good for the government to respond and give some assurance, and I know that everyone will be watching and listening to see it in there."

The new role is legislated for within the bill and Ms Jacobs will work as designate commissioner with no formal powers until it passes through Parliament and becomes law.

The bill would end the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts and allow police and courts to intervene earlier where abuse is suspected.

'Postcode lottery'

Ms Jacobs, previously chief executive of the domestic abuse charity Standing Together, said she wanted to end a "postcode lottery" of services that many victims face.

She said: "You will hear something where you go 'wow, that shouldn't have happened' or where you say 'that wouldn't have happened elsewhere'."

Charities said Ms Jacobs' appointment ensures "survivors and their needs are front and centre" but some expressed concern that her job will be part-time.

Women's Aid's Adina Claire said the charity was "concerned that this crucial role is a part-time position, given the extent of its remit".

Sandra Horley, of the charity Refuge, said she wants assurances the government's promise to re-introduce the new bill is fulfilled.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "absolutely determined to do all I can to protect victims and their families and ensure perpetrators face tough action".

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can find information and support on the BBC Action Line website.

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