A new domestic abuse offence for "coercive and controlling behaviour" within relationships has been announced by the home secretary, Theresa May.
This follows a period of consultation on creating the offence in England and Wales as part of attempts to improve police performance. According to Women’s Aid, only 6.5 per cent of domestic violence incidents reported to the police result in a conviction, while a quarter of cases that are passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) result in no action being taken.
The cross government definition of domestic abuse, amended last year is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.”
While the definition includes controlling and coercive behaviour, such behaviour wasn’t until now a criminal offence. Whilst there were various offences which cover acts of violence, stalking and harassment, the new law now means that for the first time men or women, who control their partners through threats or restrict their personal or financial freedom by cutting them off from family and friends, could face prison in the same way as those who are violent towards them.
Home Secretary Theresa May said; "The government is clear that abuse is not just physical. Victims who are subjected to a living hell by their partners must have the confidence to come forward. I want perpetrators to be in no doubt that their cruel and controlling behaviour is criminal”.
By Aaron Byrne - Family department
If you are suffering abuse please visit our page domestic abuse or speak to our domestic abuse specialists confidentially at any time on 0333 344 4774.