Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship has been recognised for the first time after a new domestic abuse law came into effect on Tuesday, 29 December 2015.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who has prioritised tackling domestic and sexual violence, is welcoming the coercive control offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine.
The announcement of the law change came in the same month as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) announced that the number of reported crimes associated with domestic abuse increased by 31% in 18 months.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Domestic and sexual abuse is an inexcusable form of cruelty and will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset. No one has the right to control or abuse another person either physically or mentally.
“There are no excuses for domestic abuse and that is why I’ve made tackling this terrible crime a priority in Avon and Somerset. I believe you should be able to trust your loved ones and have a mutual respect for one another. Being in an intimate or family relationship is not an excuse to control or coerce another individual.”
In 2015, the Commissioner helped launch the Thisisinotanexcuse family and friends’ campaign which encourages people to report if they suspect someone they know is being abused. More information can be found on the thisisnotanexcuse.org website.
Sue continued: “I hope that this law change will give victims the confidence to come forward and report – please know you are not alone and help and support is available.”
Prior to the law change, there was a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour which occurs during a current intimate relationship, a relationship with a former partner but who still live together or family members.
The acknowledgement of controlling and coercive behaviour over a continued period of time, through various mediums including over the telephone or social media as well as in the home, sends a clear zero tolerance message to perpetrators.
Tackling domestic and sexual abuse is one of five Police and Crime Plan priorities that Ms Mountstevens has highlighted for Avon and Somerset Police. You can read the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Plan as well as your local Plan here: www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Your-PCC/Police-Crime-Plan-2015-2017.aspx
To find out more about Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 – controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate of family relationship, please visit the CPS website: www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/controlling_or_coercive_behaviour/#a01
Posted on Tuesday 5th January 2016