On 29th December 2015 a new law came into force creating a specific criminal offence of “controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship”.  Coercive or controlling behaviour is defined as causing the victim to fear that violence will be used against him or her on at least two occasions or the abuser’s behaviour causes the victim serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s usual day-to-day activities.

The new law has been introduced as Citizens Advice reported a steep rise in the number of victims seeking help over the last 12 months.  The Crown Prosecution Service will be able to bring charges against a perpetrator where there is evidence of repeated, or continuous, controlling or coercive behaviour.

Abuse of this type can include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation, or behaviour such as preventing a partner from socialising, controlling their social media access, keeping their partner under surveillance through apps or dictating what they can wear.

Cases will be dealt with in the magistrates or crown courts and the maximum sentence is five years imprisonment.  Evidence can include emails, GPS tracking devices installed on mobile phones, bank records, witness statements from family and friends and evidence of isolation of the victim.

If you have experienced or are currently experiencing controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship it is important that you seek help and report this to the police.

If you would like further information or advice about your own situation we can help. Please contact us for a free initial meeting by calling on 01844 268341 or emailing mharrington@lightfoots.co.uk