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.