Coercive Or Controlling Domestic Abuse Now Punishable By Up To Five Years In Prison

National Law Firm Irwin Mitchell Welcomes New Legislation


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

Family law experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed new legislation brought into power today which now means that coercive or controlling domestic abuse becomes a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Crown Prosecution Service are now able to bring charges where there is evidence of repeated, or continuous, controlling or coercive behaviour within an intimate or family relationship.

Cases can now be heard in magistrates or crown courts, and the maximum sentence is five years imprisonment. Evidence the courts will consider can now include emails, GPS tracking devices installed on mobile phones, bank records, witness statements from family and friends and evidence of isolation.

Controlling or coercive behaviour is defined under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 as causing someone to fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions, or generating serious alarm or distress that has a substantial effect on their usual day-to-day activities.

According to Citizens Advice, 1,500 people sought help for domestic abuse between July and September 2015, a rise of 24% on the same period in the previous year.

The charity said it had supported more than 5,400 people suffering from domestic abuse in the 12 months to October 2015, including 3,000 cases of emotional abuse and 900 of financial abuse.

In December 2014 the Home Secretary confirmed plans for the introduction of a new domestic abuse offence related to coercive and controlling behaviour.  May described coercive control as “tantamount to torture” and said that “In many cases, dominance over the victim develops and escalates over the years until the perpetrator has complete control.”
Peter Morris, a family law specialist from national law Irwin Mitchell has welcomed the new legislation and the stricter punishments that now represent the seriousness of these crimes.