URGENT NEED TO CRIMINALISE COERCIVE CONTROL
Embargoed: 00:01 Tuesday 9th September 2014.
Plaid Cymru and The Digital-Trust welcome the government's eight-week consultation on strengthening the law on domestic violence.
The government recognises that there is no specific law against coercive control in a domestic relationship and is using its consultation to ask how the law could be strengthened. The government is likely to conclude that the law is inadequate and fails to take into account patterns or courses of abusive behaviour.
The criminalisation of coercive control was contained in a bill introduced in the House of Commons by Elfyn Llwyd MP in February this year. The bill would fill a perceived 'gap' in current British law on domestic abuse. The bill states that any person who commits an act or engages in a course of conduct that amounts to coercive control is guilty of an offence.
If a person is convicted on indictment at a Crown Court they are liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years.
In addition, the bill places mandatory duties on the Secretary of State to ensure that every police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland develops and implements written policies and standards for officers' responses to domestic violence incidents.
The bill also ensures that there shall be training into domestic violence behaviour for all criminal justice agencies within one year of the measures coming into effect.
The bill attracted all-party support including Sir Edward Garnier (Conservative), Cheryl Gillan (Conservative), Sir Bob Russell (Liberal Democrat), Sandra Osborne (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Margaret Ritchie (SDLP).
In a briefing to MPs published today (Tuesday), its authors Elfyn Llwyd MP, Delyth Jewell and Harry Fletcher argue that the 10-minute Rule Bill would strengthen the law, result in more victims reporting abuse, ensure that the Police investigated courses of coercive control properly and give prosecutors more evidence to mount prosecutions and gain convictions. Members of Parliament are being urged to support the amendment to the Serious Crime Bill in the Autumn.
Harry Fletcher, Director of The Digital-Trust, who co-ordinated the drafting of the bill during 2014, said:
"Domestic violence is a serious crime, the law does not protect predominantly female victims, and perpetrators are empowered by patterns of abuse”
“Stronger laws are needed now."
Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd MP said:
"My bill meets the government's thinking, it criminalises coercive control and makes training mandatory for all criminal justice professionals, in particular police and prosecutors.
"The bill will be tabled as an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill expected to arrive in the Commons some time in the autumn. It is highly likely that the government will be producing their own proposals at around the same time.
"If the measures are properly enforced, they will result in a sharp rise in reporting, prosecutions and convictions."