Controlling and Coercive Behaviour: Recent developments

Written 2nd June 2021 by James Claughton

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 was passed on 29 April 2021. The Act increases the scope of the offence of controlling and coercive behaviour, broadening it to cover abuse which occurs after the end of a relationship. The Act will enhance the rights of victims of domestic abuse and the ability to deal with those guilty of domestic abuse. It has been broadened to include emotional and economic abuse, controlling and coercive behaviour and physical abuse.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has stated:

”Domestic abuse and violence against women and girls are utterly shameful. As Home Secretary, I am determined to work tirelessly to keep vulnerable people safe and bring crime down. The Domestic Abuse Act is long overdue. This landmark act will transform the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.”

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland noted:

“This landmark piece of legislation steps up the response to domestic abuse at every level – giving victims more support than ever before while ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law. Thanks to the many survivors, charities, parliamentarians and colleagues from across government who have worked tirelessly to make this possible, more vulnerable people and families will be protected from the scourge of domestic abuse.”

“Intimate personal relationship”

Prior to the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, coercive and controlling behaviour was under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, and required that the complainant and defendant were “in an intimate personal relationship” at the time of the alleged offence. This element is no longer required under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. Controlling or coercive behaviour offence has been amended to cover offences where the complainant and defendant are no longer are in a relationship.

The Home Office’s review pointed out that the “intimate personal relationship” element was problematic because the relationship between the complainant and defendant may no longer being ongoing at the time of the allegation. Frequently allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour are made in the context of relationships which have broken down.

Following the exclusion of the “intimate personal relationship” element, allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour can now apply to post-separation relationships or to a member of the complainant’s family whom they do not live with.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 will now cover a broader range of behaviour by Defendant’s following the separation of the compliant and defendant. This revision of coercive and controlling behaviour represents a major widening of the offence and it is conceivable that this will lead to an increase in allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour.

Article written by James Claughton. The Olliers team frequently act in cases involving allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour.

If you face investigation in relation to an allegation of coercive and controlling or any form of domestic abuse behaviour please contact Ruth Peters at Olliers Solicitors  on 0161 834 1515 or to discuss how Olliers proactive approach can assist you.

James Claughton

James Claughton



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