Circular: new government domestic violence and abuse definition

Home Office circular 003/2013 Broad subject: Crime and Disorder Issue date: Thu…



Home Office circular 003/2013

New government domestic violence and abuse definition

  • Broad subject: Crime and Disorder
  • Issue date: Thu Feb 14 14:41:33 GMT 2013
  • From:
    Crime and Policing Group (CPG) - Crime Directorate, Violent Crime Unit (VCU)

  • Sub category: Domestic violence
  • Implementation date: Thu Feb 14 14:41:33 GMT 2013
  • For more info contact:

Hannah Buckley 020 7035 8579

  • Addressed to:
    Chief Constables England and Wales Association of Magisterial Officers The Justice Clerks Society The Magistrates Association Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales Presiding Judges High Court Judges Crown Court Judges Resident Judges District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) Ministry of Justice Police and Crime Commissioners Chief of Probation Chief Crown Prosecutors CPS Youth Offending Teams Association of Chief Police Officers College of Policing Local Government Association Chief Executives of Local Authorities Association of Directors of Children’s Services Local Safeguarding Children Boards

We are extending the definition of domestic violence and abuse so that young people aged 16 and 17 and wording to capture coercive control will be included.

The new definition will be implemented from 31 March 2013.

New definition

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour,  violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”*

*This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Whilst this is not a legislative change, the definition will send a clear message to victims about what does constitute domestic violence and abuse.

We encourage you to review your guidance and policies on domestic violence and abuse to reflect the change in definition.  

You can read more about the new definition on the Domestic Violence policy page on Home Office website.