Simpson Millar is working with the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence to launch a national domestic violence training scheme for the police, after its research highlighted a lack of action under new Coercive Control law.
On 29 December 2015, controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships became a new offence, which can attract a maximum prison sentence of five years.
However, a freedom of information request by Simpson Millar found that fewer than three coercive control prosecutions had been made, on average, per police authority in the first six months of the new law, and that ten forces hadn’t charged a single person.
But coercive control is a widespread issue, evidenced by a review of 450 divorce cases carried out by Simpson Millar. The firm found elements of coercive control in 15% of cases this year with partners being prevented from socialising with friends, seeing family members and even accessing shared funds featuring as the most common issues.
Lancashire Police had recorded just one coercive control investigation in the first quarter of 2016. It is now the first force to invite Simpson Millar and the Corporate Alliance to present a bespoke training session.
Emma Pearmaine, director of Family Services at Simpson Millar and chair of the Corporate Alliance, said: “Coercive control is a pattern of behaviours which have a significant and devastating impact on a person’s life. Sadly, we also know that coercive control is often the precursor to physical domestic abuse. This is why early intervention is so crucial; it can literally be lifesaving.”