Coercive and Controlling Behaviour – A New Criminal Offence
Abusive behaviour can start at a very young age and we are all too familiar with the playground chant of ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me’. Unfortunately abuse and bullying behaviour doesn’t leave all of us in the school playground. It can continue in later life in intimate and family relationships where the emotional and psychological abuse can be far more scarring and harder to recover from than a physical attack. One of the reasons is that the damage is not immediately apparent. It manifests over years and years of abuse which can culminate in a final violent attack.
A physical attack can be seen, a mark, a bruise, a broken bone, a black eye but what help is available for a victim of emotional and psychological abuse?
On the 29th December 2015 a new criminal offence of coercive and controlling behaviour is created and comes into force. This means the police will be able to arrest a perpetrator for the new criminal offence. The definition of domestic abuse has been widened under the Serious Crimes Act 2015 to include the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour. It is defined as a course of conduct, whereby it is not defined by one single act but rather a number of acts occurring together, forming a pattern over time. The offence will carry a maximum sentence of five years.
So what is coercive and controlling behaviour? It can include the perpetrator preventing the victim from having friends or socialising. It can be financial control by refusing to give the victim money or taking out loans in the victim’s name which they will be responsible for even if a separation occurs. Further the perpetrator can dictate what the victim does every day such as household chores and caring for the perpetrator and determining when the victim can sleep, eat and bathe by way of a few examples. All of which are very difficult to evidence and prove.
Home Secretary Theresa May said “Dominance over the victim by the perpetrator develops and escalates over years until the perpetrator has complete control. Putting a foot wrong can result in violent outbursts, with victims living in fear for their lives”
The new offence is launched alongside an investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary on the police response to domestic abuse. In high risk areas throughout the North East of England the Police are attending Domestic Abuse Incidents closely followed by a second response car with a Domestic Abuse Support Worker to provide valuable immediate support to the victim. The focus by the police is now on removing the perpetrator from the scene rather than removing the victim from their home.
We understand that acknowledging a family member is being abusive towards you is one of the hardest steps someone can take. At David Gray Solicitors our goal always is to provide an efficient legal service in a friendly, approachable and sensitive manner. We have a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager as a first point of contact.
You can contact us by phone 0191 232 9547, via our website contact form or Chat Live on our website. However if you are at immediate risk always call 999 first.