‘Coercive control should be criminalised,’ say victims of domestic violence
Survey respondents call unanimously for mandatory training of CPS and judiciary
The Domestic Violence Law Reform Campaign has released a report calling for the Government to close gaps in the law around domestic violence which allow perpetrators to avoid prosecution for their abusive behaviour. The Campaign, made up of Paladin, the national stalking advocacy service; the Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation; and national domestic violence charity Women's Aid, are urging the reforms in light of a survey demonstrating the inability of the current system to respond appropriately to intimate partner violence.
The survey states:
- 88% said the criminal justice system didn't take psychological harm into account and 94% felt that mental cruelty can sometimes be worse than physical violence
- 57% who reported to police reported more than three instances of domestic violence, but 81% said the criminal justice system did not take any pattern of abuse into account
- 98% of victims felt that reform of the law and practice around domestic violence is needed
- 100% felt that the police, Crime Prosecution Service, judges and magistrates should have to complete mandatory training into the dynamics and impact of domestic violence.
In light of these figures, the campaigners are calling for 'coercive control', patterns of behaviour and causing psychological harm to be criminalised, to ensure the statutory response to domestic violence reflects both the Home Office definition and the reality of violent relationships.
Laura Richards, Director of Paladin, said:
"It is possible for the law to criminalise a course of conduct and move beyond physical injury; stalking laws now allow the criminal justice system to take account of patterns of controlling behaviour after a relationship has ended, but often this is far too late for victims as the behaviour has been allowed to escalate. We now need to apply the same standard to domestic violence. The legislative framework must change to take account of a course of conduct, target patterns and address a broad range of harm and focus more on early intervention and prevention and to better protect victims."
The full report can be downloaded from this page.