Despite coercive control recently becoming a criminal offence in England and Wales, latest police data shows that only 3 forces – Kent, Hertfordshire and Norfolk, have 10 or more prosecutions under this offence between December 2015 and June 2016. This information was revealed under the Freedom of Information Act following a request from Simpson Millar Solicitors.
In addition, worryingly, only Greater Manchester was the other police force to have launched more than five coercive control actions over the same time period.
On 29 December 2016 it became an offence to carry out coercive or controlling behaviour in familial or intimate relationships under s76 Serious Crime Act 2015.
However, despite Citizens Advice still reporting large numbers of people attending having suffered from emotional, sexual or financial abuse the amount of people seeking prosecutions under the new offence is worryingly low. There are concerns amongst some people that, despite being well publicised in some quarters, there is still insufficient public knowledge about the new offence as well as what can amount to domestic abuse in general. Additionally, there are concerns that not enough is being done to train police officers to recognise victims who would fall under the new offence.
Domestic abuse is still very much a matter which is not highlighted or discussed in the public domain. In some cases this may mean that a victim is not aware that the behaviour they are experiencing can amount to domestic abuse until this is highlighted by an outside third party or if the abuse becomes physical.
Samantha Lee, Managing Director and Head of Family Law at Swain & Co Solicitors says, “It is good that slowly domestic violence is being seen as a more serious issue, and there is now criminal protection for those subject to sexual, emotional and financial domestic abuse. However, it is important that this good work continues to be done. It is also clear that further education work needs to be done about the new offence, so the vulnerable people who need this protection can obtain it.”
If you require legal assistance with a matter related to the behaviour of your partner towards you, call Swain & Co Solicitors today on 02392 483322.