On 2 July 2012 the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012 came into force and will apply to offences committed on or after that date.
Section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 provided for the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. It was enacted to deal with the situation where it was clear that one of a number of adults in a household was responsible for the death but it could not be proved which one.
The 2012 Act extends the section 5 offence to include causing or allowing “serious physical harm” to a child or vulnerable adult. Section 6 of the 2004 Act had modified certain evidential and procedural provisions where a defendant was charged with causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult and with murder of manslaughter in the same proceedings and in relation to the same death.
The two main changes to normal trial procedure were in respect of adverse inferences from silence and the stage at which a submission of no case to answer could be made. The provisions were designed to encourage defendants to give evidence.
The 2012 Act inserts a new section 6A into the 2004 Act which provides similar provisions in relation to alternative charges in trials involving the causing or allowing serious physical harm offence. The procedural charges in section 6A are limited to cases where the defendant is charged with the new offence and either an offence under section 18 or 20 of the OAPA 1861 or attempted murder in the same proceedings and where the two offences arise from the same serious physical harm.