Press Release – Updates on Victims of Domestic abuses better protected from the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour offence.

Key updates include:

  • The ‘living together’ requirement has been removed from the Controlling or Coercive behaviour offence
  • There will now be clearer guidance for the Police on Controlling or Coercive behaviour
  • Greater protections for victims by identifying risk factors and tactics used by perpetrators

Victims of Controlling or Coercive behaviour who do not live with their abuser will receive better protection thanks to changes coming into effect today.

The Controlling or Coercive behaviour offence has today been extended to cover victims who do not live with the family member or ex partner abusing them in order for the offence of Controlling or Coercive behaviour to apply.

Controlling or Coercive behaviour does not stop at the point of separation; it can persist and often increase, as the perpetrator seeks to retain control over the victim. The updated guidance will clearly outline what constitutes Controlling or Coercive behaviour and how to identify the offence. It will also assist police and other criminal justice agencies to better understand where the offence will apply, how to gather the right evidence and when other offences should be considered, which will help to  increase successful prosecutions and ensure more perpetrators are brought to justice.

The Safeguarding Minister, Sarah Dines said:

“Controlling or Coercive behaviour is an abhorrent crime that I am determined to tackle.

“Victims’ safety is paramount, and this updated guidance will offer wider protection to victims and will support the police to bring more perpetrators to justice.”

The guidance will also include information on reducing risks for victims of Controlling or Coercive behaviour, and advice on how to safely respond to perpetrator behaviour. This will mean that the police and other agencies are able to fully identify tactics such as threats and intimidation, manipulation and other forms of Controlling or Coercive behaviour used by perpetrators and provide clearer advice to support victims as a result. The guidance also makes it clear how to deal with counter-allegations and better understand the needs of victims.

Malin Andersson, Mental Health Advocate and Survivor of Domestic Abuse

“As a survivor of abuse, it’s so important to me that the government are taking action to tackle coercive or controlling behaviour, because it’s not spoken about enough.

“The psychological trauma of being in an abusive relationship can make victims feel very isolated. This new guidance will help those people to know just what Coercive or Controlling Behaviour is and to come forward and report it.”

This guidance has come into force following a eight week public consultation, which gathered the views of expert charities as well as victims and users of support and prevention services. We have refined the guidance through working closely with operational experts, including the Crown Prosecution Service, National Police Chiefs’ Council, the College of Policing and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs said:

“This guidance will play an important role in ensuring that services recognise controlling or Coercive behaviour and therefore identify and support victims and survivors of domestic abuse more effectively and appropriately.

“The removal of the living together requirement and the recognition that for many victims, abuse and control can continue following their separation from an abusive partner are some of the important steps to create a wider and more detailed understanding of controlling and coercive behaviour. I will be working closely with the government to ensure this guidance filters down into the practice of the front line of all public services which come into contact with victims and survivors.”

Earlier this year we announced a range of measures to help tackle domestic abuse, going further than ever before in protecting women and girls from violence by implementing tougher measures on the most dangerous domestic abuse offenders.

We introduced guidance on Clare’s Law, meaning it will be quicker to access information on a partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending. As of today the guidance has now been placed on a statutory footing.

We are changing the law so that the most dangerous domestic abusers will be managed more closely. Controlling or Coercive behaviour will be put on a par with physical violence, which will mean offenders sentenced to a year or more imprisonment or a suspended sentence will automatically be actively managed by the police, prison and probation services under multi-agency public protection arrangements. A range of agencies will have a legal duty to cooperate to manage the risks posed by these dangerous offenders. This will make it easier to deliver a joined-up approach to protect the public.

In addition, abusers could be fitted with a tag, prevented from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home, and made to attend a behaviour change programme, as part of a trial of domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders in three areas in the UK.

The landmark Domestic Abuse Act has helped transform our response to victims in every region in England and Wales and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. The changes made by the Act included introducing, for the first time in history, a general purpose legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, controlling or coercive, and economic abuse. The Act also recognised children as victims of domestic abuse in their own right.

The Act introduced strengthened legal protections, such as introducing a new offence of non-strangulation, strengthening the ‘revenge porn’ offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress, and established a statutory duty on local authorities relating to the provision of support to victims and survivors and their children within safe accommodation.

Notes to editors:

  • For more information contact the Home Office Press Office newsdesk on 0300 123 3535 or out of hours on 07623 514 628.

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