News story

Coercive or controlling behaviour now a crime

Victims who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of domestic abuse will be better protected under a new offence, which comes into force today.

The government’s new coercive or controlling behaviour offence will mean victims who experience the type of behaviour that stops short of serious physical violence, but amounts to extreme psychological and emotional abuse, can bring their perpetrators to justice

The offence will carry a maximum of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said:

“No one should live in fear of domestic abuse, which is why this government has made ending violence against women and girls a priority.

“Our new coercive or controlling behaviour offence will protect victims who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of abuse that can lead to total control of their lives by the perpetrator.

“We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated.”

Referrals, prosecutions and the volume of convictions for domestic violence and abuse have risen to their highest ever levels.

The government is committed to supporting the police to bring offenders to justice and to ensure victims have the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Coercive or controlling behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of incidents that occur over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another.

The new offence aims to close a gap in the law around patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour during a relationship between intimate partners, former partners who still live together, or family members.

This sends a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you, providing better protection to victims experiencing continuous abuse and allowing for earlier identification, intervention and prevention.