From today a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult comes into force.

Monday 21 March 2005 at 9:56 pm | In News | Post Comment

The new offence of familial homicide, introduced in the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, will close a legal loophole that allows those jointly accused of the murder of a child or vulnerable adult to escape justice by remaining silent or blaming each other.

This measure puts a clear legal responsibility on adult household members who have frequent contact with a child or vulnerable adult to take reasonable steps to protect the child or vulnerable adult if they knew or should have known they were at significant risk of serious physical harm from members of that household.

The reasonable steps that an adult household member is expected to take will vary according to the circumstances of the case and ultimately it will be for the jury to decide if the person acted reasonably.

The public information leaflet is available at
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/familial_homicide.htm

Domestic violence accounts for 16 per cent of all crime (Crime in England and Wales 2003/4, Home Office 2004).

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