Two years since the criminalisation of coercive control yet perpetrators are yet to feel “the full force of the law”

Friday 29th December 2017


Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“From our work with survivors, we know that coercive and controlling behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse. It is a repeated pattern of behaviour that perpetrators use to intimidate, isolate and frighten victims, and has a long-lasting and devastating impact on the survivor. Yet since it was made a criminal offence in December 2015, less than 1% of all domestic abuse-related offences recorded by the police were classified as coercive control and an even smaller number of these cases resulted in a charge or conviction. As a result, the full force of the law is yet to be felt by those who continue to carry out this appalling crime.

A recent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) on the police response to domestic abuse revealed that “some officers still do not understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and coercive control.” It is extremely worrying that some frontline police officers are still not identifying the crime, and survivors are not getting the response they need when reporting to the police.

“We need all police officers and indeed all public servants to understand this form of abuse, and the terrifying impact that the exertion of power and control has on women. Coercive control is far from gender neutral, it is overwhelmingly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. Sexism and women’s inequality is both a cause and consequence of coercive control, and we must tackle the root causes of it across society if we want to give the right response to survivors and ultimately prevent this form of abuse.

“That’s why we are calling for comprehensive training to ensure that everyone within the justice system – including the family courts – understands coercive control, recognises patterns of abusive behaviour, and gives the right response, support and protection to survivors. We must continue to improve the response to coercive control across society to send out a clear message that it is unacceptable; that this crime is taken seriously, perpetrators will be held to account for the harm they have caused and that survivors will be supported in their escape and recovery from all forms of domestic abuse.”


For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office on: [email protected] / 020 7490 8330.

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