Women’s Aid responds to new “intimidatory” offences sentencing guidelines
Thursday 5th July 2018
Today, the Sentencing Council has published new sentencing guidelines on “intimidatory” offences including coercive control and disclosing private sexual images without consent. Women’s Aid responds to new “intimidatory” offences sentencing guidelines and calls for the government to urgently grant victims anonymity in all cases of image-based sexual abuse.
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“We welcome the introduction of specific guidelines for “intimidatory” offences, including coercive control and posting intimate images online with the intention of causing distress and humiliation, which we hope will make sentencing for these offences more consistent and robust. The new sentencing guidelines send out the clear message that these forms of abusive and controlling behaviour in relationships are being taken seriously by the criminal justice system.
“Moving forward, we want to see the criminal justice system going further to protect victims of coercive control. Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse; it has a devastating impact and some of the highest risks associated with it. Yet perpetrators are yet to feel the full force of the law. We want to see the police and CPS working to investigate and prosecute the crime consistently, and for judges to use these new guidelines to hand down sentences that reflect the long-lasting harm this form of abuse causes.
“We are pleased that the new guidelines for disclosing private sexual images also recommend tougher sentences for perpetrators who repeatedly repost explicit material to control and humiliate the victim. It is important to recognise that this offence is often part of a wider pattern of domestic abuse and coercive control. In the year 2015/16, 89% of disclosing private sexual images offences were flagged as being domestic abuse-related. The criminal justice system must also go further to protect victims of this awful crime. One major barrier to victims proceeding with a prosecution is that, unlike victims of sexual offences, victims of this crime are not offered anonymity when their case goes to trial. This form of image-based sexual abuse is distressing and humiliating for survivors, and there is the very real threat that by speaking out in court this might result in the sexual images being shared more widely. We call on the government to urgently grant victims anonymity in all cases of image-based sexual abuse. Only then will survivors have the confidence that they will be protected in court and perpetrators of this devastating crime be brought to justice.”
If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]