‘Coercive control’ domestic abuse to be criminalised

News|December 19th 2014

Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed plans to include a criminal offense for people who use ‘coercive control’ against their partners in the Serious Crimes Bill.

Should the new offense be successfully added to the bill, it will work similarly to current laws regarding stalking. Its focus will be on behaviour which may, on the surface, “appear innocent” but creates a “significant” impact on the victim’s life.

Those found guilty could face a maximum of five years in prison, a fine, or possibly both.

The new offense is to be created because “the law on stalking and harassment does not explicitly apply to coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships”.

The decision comes shortly after the conclusion of a consultation launched in August to gauge reaction to the idea of creating a new offense. Responses were collected from various police forces, academics, charities, victims, and members of the public.

Despite some potential problems with criminalising domestic abuse, the consultation found 85 per cent of respondents supported strengthening the law, and 70 per cent believed that the current law does not “capture the Government definition of domestic abuse”.

The Home Secretary will introduce the new offense as an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill once it reaches the commons committee stage, which is the third step in the process of creating new laws. It will be debated and, if agreed upon, added to the bill. Once the stage is complete, the entire bill is reprinted in preparation for the next round of debate in the House of Commons.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(7)

  1. Andrew says:

    I have a feeling that I have said this before but it will bear repetition: making a criminal offence out of s state of affairs (in the non-matrimonial sense!) rather than an event is not going to work well. This clause will make good headlines and bad law.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Andrew
      Agreed. It will put the police under great deal of pressure, it’s a tough nut to crack and every risk the wrong person will end up on trial.
      Regards
      Marilyn

  2. Yvie says:

    Whilst no-one should be subjected to bullying, it could be relatively easy to manipulate this law with malicious intent. We already have a situation where a father can phone his ex. regarding child contact arrangements only to find himself reported to the police for harassment.

  3. Anon says:

    The UK is one of the most coercive and violent countries in the world, and should make nobody proud to be a part of it. It is effectively run by mass murderers, who sanction fracking, war and torture in order to protect their interests. It imprisons immigrants and children, appears to be complicit with child-trafficking, and commits the most awful financial abuses against its own people (save for the top 15% with the wealth and power). The majority have no voice, and are anyway usually too ignorant even to know that they are being abused so thoroughly in this way, because proper education has been dumbed down beyond recognition and been made inaccessible. It is little wonder if there is a problem with coercive behavior amongst the general public, when its leaders are so pathological. This seems to me to be a case of doing the finger-waving first, and hoping to distract attention away from the real culprits. The only thing we ought to be criminalizing in this country is the gruesome behavior and abuse of power by the likes of those who make the laws. I’d be all for this law if it turned back to bite the bum of its maker.

  4. Andrew says:

    Anon – PLEASE remember to take your meds . . .

  5. Stitchedup says:

    “One of the main problems I have with this proposal is that proving coercive control will be very difficult. Like the UKIP story, they would all rely on one person’s word against the other. In a relationship between a man and a woman, would a jury believe that a woman would be capable of such abuse if she is physically smaller than her partner?”

    I don’t believe this will be a problem Marilyn. Most such cases will be heard in the Magistrates courts and most likely before a district judge not a bench of magistrates. It is now common knowledge that a man facing domestic abuse allegations is guilty until proven innocent in the magistrates courts; many legal professionals will tell you this off the record and they will also tell you which district judges are considered biased and unsafe. Like Andrew, I’m sorry to repeat myself, but this is the end result of feminist political correctness and relentless lobbying by feminist political organisations such as Women’s Aid and Refuge. The consultation process was flawed from the start, inviting responses from domestic violence charities, victims and carefully selected academics is not going to give you a balanced view, and the Police will welcome anything that helps them improve their arrest and conviction stats.

    The burden of proof will be on the accused, the accuser will already be labelled a “Victim” perhaps even a “Survivor”. No doubt we will find men convicted of “coercive control” just because they have an opinion on the selling price of the family home or perhaps they are deliberately trying to control the victim when stuck in a traffic jam when on their way to pick up the kids for a contact handover.

    This is political correctness timed to win women’s votes, unfortunately most men will be oblivious to the implications until they get caught-up in an acrimonious divorce or separation.

  6. James says:

    What are the odds that this law will rarely be used against women, mainly men? Pretty good I’d say, despite the obvious fact that women are just as capable and likely to use emotional control methods as men are. If fact I’d say on balance women are more likely to use emotional control methods than men are, who tend to default to violence pretty quickly.

    Will the use of sex as a lever in a relationship fall foul of these rules? I’m betting a man who turns up at the police station and says his wife only sleeps with him when she wants something from him, or bursts into tears to get her own way will get pretty short shrift.

    Just another weapon in the feminists war on men.

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