How we use Cookies

Police defend record over new law to protect domestic violence victims

Cheshire Police has only prosecuted two offenders of using coercive and controlling behaviour in the first six months of the new law

Cheshire Police has defended its record over the use of a new law to protect domestic violence victims from controlling and coercive behaviour.

The force has charged just two people with the offence in the first six months since it was introduced.

The figure was revealed using the Freedom of Information Act.

Nine other police forces in England and Wales have not charged a single person with the offence which comes under the Serious Crime Act 2015 and attracts a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Cheshire Police claims it takes domestic violence seriously and said three more people face charges with the new offence.

But campaigners argue prosecutions are too few and called for more awareness and specialist training.

Emma Pearmaine from law firm Simpson Millar said: “One of the biggest concerns when it comes to coercive control is that victims are not aware that being isolated from friends or family, having access to money and bank accounts restricted, or even having personal medical conditions revealed, is domestic abuse and, now, a criminal offence.

“More clearly needs to be done so that people can involve the police at an early stage – before coercion turns into physical abuse.

“Coercive control can be many things but, essentially, it comes down to people exerting control via a pattern of behaviours, and these can sometimes be difficult to spot from the outside if you don’t know where to look or which questions to ask.

“More dedicated training on the new legislation and how coercion can impact on a victim’s life might help push up the number of people who are identified as offenders, and prosecuted.

“Victims shouldn’t stay silent, but keep a diary of what might be abusive events and make a formal complaint to the police as soon as they feel controlled or threatened by their partner or other family member.”

Det chf insp Gwyn Dodd from Cheshire Police, said: “We ensure the laws and legislation available to us are considered for each individual case and have a public protection department with specialist officers dedicated to protecting vulnerable people.

“When any officer comes across a complex domestic situation they know they can refer to the public protection department who can advise and if appropriate take on the investigation.”

Journalists

Rhiannon McDowall
Education reporter
Mike Glendinning
Sport reporter
Chris Slater
News reporter
Stuart Greer
Crime reporter
Karen Britton
Wilmslow and Alderley Edge reporter
Ben Turner
News reporter
Vic Barlow
Columnist