Police slow to engage with ‘coercive control’ laws

family law

Police forces have been slow to engage with coercive control laws, new figures suggest.

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act came into force at the end of 2015. It defined “controlling or coercive behaviour’ as a form of domestic violence. To count, it must have taken place within an “intimate or family relationship” over an extended period of time and have had a “serious effect” on the victim.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism made Freedom of Information requests to 43 police forces across the country. Just eight of the 43 forces reported having introduced a nationally available training programme on the controversial offence, and as a result the number of prosecutions remains low: a total of 532 across 29 of the forces who responded. Six of the forces who responded have brought five or fewer prosecutions, The Guardian reports.

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd first proposed the criminalisation of coercive control in 2014. Speaking to the paper, he expressed his disappointment at the levels of police engagement and called on the government to intervene.

“The poor take-up of training amongst the Welsh and English police forces is reflected in the low number of prosecutions. The Westminster government must now ensure that training is made mandatory and funded centrally.”

Photo by Faramarz Hashemi via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author


Mr T - December 29, 2017 at 2:11pm

Slow? The law was passed in 2015 they’ve had 2 years!

I’ve repeatedly told 2 constabularies that they haven’t got the training to cope and \ or deal with these crimes – one officer accused me of being abusive! The other ignored me and then proceeded to prosecute me.

The police are a total joke when it comes to this. They need two distinct types of officers – the beat cops and the mental health trained ones.

Samantha - December 29, 2017 at 5:49pm

So the serious crimes act have been questioned to SWP and there either ignoring it or don’t know about it.
Also if the coercive, would this also come under the DV abuse is it only within the family? Is it extended out for eg someone with shared PR a child or young person within the local authorities care and under foster carers . Is there a line that it stops at where immunity is given. A controlling behaviour many social workers tend to use however evidence pointing straight towards the sw of the child as the child isn’t in the parents care. Who can be charged under the serious crimes act or maybe where missing something here?

Dr. Manhattan. - December 29, 2017 at 5:51pm

the problem with “controlling or coercive behaviour’
is how can it be proven.
but of course we all know that the Family courts dont require proof or evidence of an Alleged incident. they will take the word of any professional that believes the Alleged Victim.
its dangerous ground for shure. Many innocent people will suffer from this development.

Harvey - December 31, 2017 at 9:33pm

Or Family Law should start requiring evidence, assign a Defense Solicitor be present at ex-parte hearings & cutout the frivolous lawsuits that clog courts and CAFCASS with these cases that only achieve predators’ exploitation of the UK systems, abuse of children, destruction of families and further violence legally imposed on victims every government work day.

Andrew - December 30, 2017 at 4:22pm

Perhaps the police, who have some insight into life as it is lived, have seen that the criminal law is not the way to solve the problems of an unhappy relationship.

Stitchedup - January 3, 2018 at 10:57am

Absolutely Andrew, making minor breaches of dodgy non mols secured in the civil courts without evidence a criminal offence was a major disaster and should be rectified immediately. Only acts that are normally considered criminal acts e.g. assault should find their way to the criminal courts.

Mr T - January 3, 2018 at 12:28pm

Couldn’t agree more Stichedup. I’ve been prosecuted for sending one single apology text it’s insanity.

k - January 29, 2018 at 5:54pm

Upon reading your comment, and those with whom you were commenting, I felt quite ill. I’ve repeatedly had my life torn to bits by the father of my children. He uses the courts, my immigration status, public funds, etc, to control my life and bully me in regards to access to my children. I’ve been reporting things for 3 years to police, only to have them shrug their shoulders and tell me it’s a court issue and that I need to get a solicitor! If you read the legislation, which is available online, it clearly states that it can only be applied when a Pattern is established. Not one or 2 incidences. I’ve just read the police enforcement guidelines for the Act and will be calling the police tomorrow to make yet another full report and to show them all the letters from Splitz, Immigration officials, etc, that support that this is indeed abuse and that they need to take action before the psychopath actually has me deported or beat up again.

Leave a comment