A Falmouth lawyer who specialises in domestic violence has welcomed an initiative which will mean tougher sentences for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Lucy Theobald, partner at Coodes Solicitors, advises people who want to separate from a spouse or partner after suffering abuse.

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has issued new guidance to the courts on handling domestic abuse cases. There are a number of important changes in the guidance, which mean that those who carry out abuse in the home will now face much tougher sentences.

A key change is that physical violence or psychological abuse in an intimate relationship will now be treated more seriously than equivalent crimes committed in other situations. Another is that abusers will now be treated according to the severity of their crime, not the wishes of the victim. The sentencing guidelines recognise the seriousness of the growing problem of abuse carried out on social media.

Lucy Theobald said: “Sadly domestic abuse is a huge, widespread problem. For too long, a number of horrendous abuse cases have been dismissed as being ‘just a domestic.’ So I welcome these changes, which I believe will act as a deterrent.

“I think this is right that domestic abuse cases are given this treatment, because it reflects the fact that domestic abuse is a violation of trust. Sadly many go on to abuse again so other people then suffer.

“While I wish these changes could have happened sooner, it is gratifying to see the law finally catching up with reality. For too long there has not been a strong deterrent against committing these crimes.”