If your partner phones the police after an argument, a record is made on the police computer for such matters (known as a CRIS report). "Domestic", so the boys in blue have to turn up and talk to people. Some forces run a "zero-tolerance" policy, which means that someone HAS to be removed from the property there and then (usually the person complained about, usually arrested).
Let's say this happens more than once. Totally unnecessary calls, on every occasion.
If an allegation of assault is made, and a statement is prepared, a charge is likely. Indeed, CPS policy is that where the evidence exists, it is automatically in the public interest to charge. So off we go to court. Your partner, realising that it's all now a bit serious, writes to the CPS, and makes a formal withdrawal statement.
If they're summonsed to attend, but don't, a witness warrant may be issued. This isn't particularly common, so let's leave that aside.
The prosecutor offers no evidence, and the charge against you is dismissed. Phew. You get to keep your job, you'll be able to keep paying the mortgage.
Charge dismissed, certainly, but there's more. A restraining order.
The courts now have the power to impose a restraining order upon conviction for any offence. Previously, this power was restricted to offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and lasted up to five years.
Now, it's any offence. Not only that, but the court can also impose a restraining order upon acquittal where it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a restraining order is required to protect the person named.
So, you could end up with a court order telling you not to contact your partner, directly or indirectly. For a significant period of time. Breach of which could result in a custodial sentence measured in years, not months.
I can see the utility of the court being able to grant a restraining order upon acquittal, but it is entirely wrong in principle.
This is the beginning of a slippery slope. We already have conditional cautions, so why not have conditional cautions with restraining orders attached? Why not just text them to people?
"U hv restrng ordr, dnt contct wife or up2 two yrs insde"
And yes, I'm fully aware that (for now) a restraining order is a court order, and requires an appearance before the court.