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Six-year anniversary of criminalisation of coercive control

The 29th December 2021 marked the six-year anniversary of the Serious Crime Act 2015 in which coercive and controlling behaviour was established as a criminal offence.

The head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Women's Aid, Isabelle Younane, said:

"Coercive control is at the heart of almost all domestic abuse, yet only a small minority of survivors who experience it see justice."

Commenting on events in 2021, Isabelle Younane said:

"The murders of Sarah Everard in March and Sabina Nessa in September, and countless more throughout the year, have shone a light on shocking incidents of male violence, but we must draw attention to the 'hidden' patterns of abusive behaviour that happen behind closed doors."

Statistics published by Women's Aid indicated that prosecutions for coercive behaviour remain 'disappointingly low'. In England and Wales, between April 2020 and March 2021, there were only 1,403 defendants prosecuted for controlling and coercive behaviour despite 33,954 offences of coercive control being recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021. In the year ending December 2020, out of 374 perpetrators convicted for controlling and coercive behaviour in England and Wales, 364 were male (97%).

On the sixth anniversary of the Serious Crime Act 2015, Women's Aid urged police forces and public services to take up training to better understand coercive control, such as the College of Policing Domestic Abuse Matters Change Programme.

For more information, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers