The GSD said the Government’s domestic violence strategy is not moving fast enough and it is “failing victims trapped in abusive relationships”.
In a statement, the GSD said it is committed to introducing new legislation to bring domestic violence laws up to date to include controlling or coercive behaviour and recognise all forms of nonphysical abuse.
The GSD said it is keen to open its doors on a confidential basis to those people who have been affected by domestic violence, including those working within the care services, so that the party can better understand the response and resources required to provide greater support to those living with domestic violence and its continuing effects.
There will be a confidential meeting held in the GSD headquarters on Tuesday June 18 at 10am for anyone interested in sharing their experiences and views on support in domestic violence.
“We invite any member of the public, including domestic violence charities to attend in order that we can work together in raising awareness and make proposals to the Government in tackling this worryingly more prevalent issue facing our community,” the GSD said.
In 2018 there were a total of 337 reports of domestic violence received by the Royal Gibraltar Police, with a further 213 incidents reported to the police in the first quarter of this year
It is clear that not all incidences of domestic violence will have been reported to the Police and therefore this statistic represents a worrying trend in the number of domestic violence cases in the community, the statement read.
The GSD said the RGP recognised the need for law reform in domestic violence and the criminalising of coercive behaviour in intimate relationships as far back as December 2017.
A spokesman for the party said: “It is regrettable that since the call by the RGP and the Opposition raising this issue twice in Parliament over the last year very little progress has been made in bringing legislation to Parliament to protect victims.”
“More must be done to reform our laws, raise awareness in our community and provide much needed support to the victims including education for perpetrators in respect of their actions which can have devastating effects on lives of victims.”
Elliott Phillips said: “Domestic violence is a complex issue and takes many forms including economic abuse.”
“As we have said on a number of occasions our laws need to be strengthening in or order to protect victims from more subtle forms of domestic violence.”
The United Kingdom criminalised coercive and controlling behaviour back in 2015 and in January 2019 the UK Government indicated that it will widen the scope further to include economic abuse, Mr Phillips added.
“The Government has been very slow to respond to the important changes which seek to protect victims,” he said.
“From our engagement with victims of domestic violence many feel trapped in an abusive relationship and because of their limited resources and lack of support are unable to remove themselves from the coercive and controlling behaviour.”
“We look forward to welcoming and working with concerned citizens, charities and anyone who would like to share their experiences so that we may be able to put forward proposals to the Government on tackling this important issue.”