New sentencing guidelines, which are to come into force in May, represent a significant change in the way Courts deal with domestic abuse cases.

For the first time, guidance will state that domestic abuse in the home environment should be treated more seriously than those crimes committed by strangers. Additionally, the guidance will include recognition of differing types of domestic abuse, such as threats on social media.

The last guidance was issued in 2006. Since that time, however, society had seen a significant shift and movement away from the “it’s just a domestic” dismissal of domestic abuse cases.

Additionally, tougher sentences will assist in demonstrating that society simply will not tolerate abusive relationships.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, commented to the BBC that she is "glad that the courts will be encouraged to recognise that everybody has the right to feel safe in their own home.... These sentencing guidelines better reflect the reality of domestic violence today."

We welcome this move by the Sentencing Council. It clearly represents a huge step forward in the right direction for society to recognise the true seriousness and lasting impact of domestic abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and need some advice contact our Family Helpline on 08000 147720, email or text LAW to 67777 to book a free thirty minute consultation at any of our offices across West Yorkshire to discuss matters in a confidential manner or to obtain further information. We also offer early morning and late evening appointments across our offices.