The government has published new guidance on the implementation of laws criminalising controlling behaviour in relationships.
Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act became law in October. This controversial piece of legislation made ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ in an ‘intimate or family relationship’ illegal for the first time.
The disputed behaviour must take place “repeatedly or continuously” and have a palpably “serious effect” on the victim, including a genuine fear of violence.
The new guidance provides an obligatory framework for enforcement of the law within England and Wales and is therefore aimed primarily at the police and other criminal justice professionals. However, it notes:
“The information within this guidance may also be relevant to assist the work of nongovernmental organisations and voluntary organisations.”
The ‘Statutory Guidance Framework’ outlines key principles for the identification of coercive or controlling behaviour, including relevant evidence and defences which may be offered by alleged perpetrators.
Read the full guidance here.