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Sky News: Emotional Abuse To Be Made A Criminal Offence

Sky News
Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to announce new powers which will put psychological abuse on a par with physical violence.

It will criminalise for the first time those who use controlling behaviour, as well as violence, to subject their partners to a life of misery.

A person convicted of "coercive control" could face a 14-year prison sentence.

Ministers hope the new law will encourage much earlier reporting by victims who, on average, do not contact police until they have suffered 30 incidents of domestic abuse.

Police receive a domestic abuse call every 30 seconds, according to research by the Home Office and the charity Women's Aid.

Research also shows 1.2 million women a year are victims of domestic abuse and two are week are killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Campaigner Harry Fletcher, director of the charity Digital-Trust, said: "The main reason women don't report incidents to police is a lack of confidence in the judicial system and a real fear that the behaviour of the perpetrator might escalate as a result of doing that.

"The police tend to just deal with the incident that happened that day, rather than looking at the totality of the behaviour often going back many years."

The new law is expected to come into force before next year's General Election.

DCI Trish Owen, from Greater Manchester Police's domestic abuse unit, told Sky News that the law would be "another tool for us to be able to tackle domestic violence".

The news comes as police prepare for an expected increase in domestic violence during the festive season and Ms Owen said the force has "enough staff out there to deal with demand".

She added: "I would ask (domestic violence sufferers) to pick up the phone and call police - even if they just want some advice on who to go to."

UK to get law that addresses the most prevalent form of domestic abuse - coercive control

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