Women’s Aid responds to changes to controlling or coercive behaviour offence
Isabelle Younane, head of external affairs at Women’s Aid, said:
“We welcome the post-separation controlling and coercive behaviour provision of the Domestic Abuse Act, which comes into force today. Controlling and coercive behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse and robust action to tackle this is vital to keep women safe. At Women’s Aid, we know that a perpetrator’s control does not end when the survivor leaves – and often even intensifies and evolves post-separation.
“However, we are disappointed that survivors – who desperately rely on this legislation for justice – have had to wait almost two years for it to take effect. It is therefore particularly unfortunate that this offence will not apply to retrospective cases.
“It is imperative that this new provision recognises that any form of coercive and controlling behaviour, whether during a relationship or post-separation, is completely unacceptable and will be punishable by law. Alongside this, the government must ensure that criminal justice agencies have training to properly understand coercion, including how it can manifest after a relationship ends. Despite becoming a criminal offence in 2015, coercive control continues to be seen as difficult to prove, resulting in woefully low prosecution rates. For this new offence to be impactful and keep women and children safe, we must see perpetrators held accountable for their actions.”