Newlaw­to­pro­tect­women re­sultsin­just­six­con­vic­tions

Hinckley Times - - NEWS - CLAIRE MILLER hinck­ley­times@reach­plc.com

A NEW of­fence to pro­tect women from con­trol­ling part­ners saw just six con­vic­tions in Le­ices­ter­shire last year.

In 2017, 15 peo­ple in the po­lice force area were taken to court for the of­fence of con­trol­ling or co­er­cive be­hav­iour in an in­ti­mate or fam­ily re­la­tion­ship.

Of th­ese, six pleaded or were found guilty, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Min­istry of Jus­tice - a con­vic­tion rate of 40%.

The spe­cific of­fence of co­er­cive con­trol came into force on De­cem­ber 29, 2015.

Fig­ures show in the first year the of­fence could be charged, one per­son in Le­ices­ter­shire ap­peared in court, they were not con­victed.

In 2017, peo­ple in Le­ices­ter­shire ap­peared in court charged with co­er­cive con­trol at a rate of 14 per 1 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in the po­lice force area.

This is above the Eng­land and Wales rate of 11 per 1 mil­lion.

Of those who ap­peared in court in our area in 2017, 13 were men, one was a woman, who was aged 25 or over, and one aged be­tween 21 and 24 whose gen­der was un­known. Among the men, there were two aged be­tween 21 and 24, and 11 aged 25 and over.

Of those who were con­victed, five were men aged 25 and over, and the other was the per­son whose gen­der was not known.

Re­search based on do­mes­tic abuse data from Mersey­side Po­lice found that 95% of co­er­cive con­trol vic­tims were women and 74% of per­pe­tra­tors were men.

Mean­while, an­other study found 95% of do­mes­tic abuse sur­vivors re­ported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing co­er­cive con­trol.

Con­trol­ling be­hav­iour is a range of acts de­signed to make a per­son sub­or­di­nate and/or de­pen­dent by iso­lat­ing them from sources of sup­port, while co­er­cive be­hav­iour is a con­tin­u­ing act or a pat­tern of acts of as­sault, threats, hu­mil­i­a­tion and in­tim­i­da­tion.

If some­one con­tin­u­ously acts in this way to­wards a part­ner or fam­ily mem­ber, know­ing that the be­hav­iour is hav­ing a se­ri­ous ef­fect on the vic­tim - for ex­am­ple mak­ing the vic­tim fear vi­o­lence could be used against them on more than one oc­ca­sion - then it is an of­fence.

Such be­hav­iours might in­clude iso­lat­ing a per­son from their friends and fam­ily, mon­i­tor­ing them, telling them where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep, re­peat­edly putting them down, forc­ing the vic­tim to take part in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, ne­glect or abuse of chil­dren, con­trol­ling fi­nances, and mak­ing threats.

Across Eng­land and Wales, 235 peo­ple were con­victed of co­er­cive con­trol in 2017 - up from 59 in 2016.

The num­ber of peo­ple ap­pear­ing in court charged with the of­fence rose from 197 to 664.

This means the con­vic­tion rate in Eng­land and Wales was 35%.

Of those con­victed, 233 were men, one of whom was aged be­tween 15 and 17, while 12 were aged be­tween 18 and 20, 36 were aged be­tween 21 and 24, and 184 were aged 25 and over.

Also con­victed was one women aged be­tween 18 and 20, and some­one aged be­tween 21 and 24 where the gen­der is not known.

Katie Ghose, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Women’s Aid, said: “From our work with sur­vivors, we know that co­er­cive and con­trol­ling be­hav­iour is at the heart of do­mes­tic abuse. We wel­come the small up­lift in con­vic­tion rates for co­er­cive con­trol of­fences.

“How­ever, it is clear that the full force of the law is yet to be felt for those who con­tinue to com­mit this dev­as­tat­ing form of abuse with only 235 of­fend­ers con­victed for co­er­cive con­trol in Eng­land and Wales dur­ing 2017.

“The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem must make tack­ling co­er­cive con­trol a pri­or­ity. The po­lice and Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice must re­ceive com­pre­hen­sive and on­go­ing train­ing co-de­liv­ered by spe­cial­ists like Women’s Aid to help them un­der­stand that do­mes­tic abuse isn’t just an act of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence but can be emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal too.

“We also need to en­sure that the po­lice con­tinue to im­prove their ev­i­dence gath­er­ing, fo­cus­ing on the harm caused to the vic­tim and the wider con­text of the abuse not just gath­er­ing ev­i­dence from the in­ci­dent at­tended, to en­sure that a com­pre­hen­sive case is pre­sented in court.

“We need a crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem that both keeps sur­vivors of co­er­cive con­trol safe and holds per­pe­tra­tors to ac­count for all forms of do­mes­tic abuse.”

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