Domestic Abuse

Home Office written question – answered at on 29 November 2022.

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Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of adequacy of the treatment victims of coercive control and domestic abuse by the criminal justice system.

Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that victims of coercive control and domestic abuse are protected from harassment outside of the home including post separation harassment.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

Our landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is bolstering our response to domestic abuse on every level, strengthening protections for victims whilst also ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law. On 30 March this year, we went even further and published the cross-Government Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan. The Plan seeks to transform the whole of society’s response to prevent offending, support victims, pursue perpetrators, and strengthen the systems and processes in place to deliver these goals.

Controlling or coercive behaviour can persist and often increase post-separation – which is why the Domestic Abuse Act amended the offence. This means that it will soon apply to intimate partners, ex-partners or family members, regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator live together. To further assist frontline agencies in identifying, investigating and evidencing such abuse , we are updating the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour Statutory Guidance.

In the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the Government also legislated for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Order, to be piloted from Spring 2024, which will go even further in protecting victims from all forms of domestic abuse. This includes making the order available in all courts and making breach a criminal offence. The order will have no minimum or maximum duration and will be able to impose electronic monitoring requirements.

The criminal justice system’s response to domestic abuse continues to improve, and this is reflected in the number of controlling or coercive behaviour offences that have reached a first hearing at a magistrates’ court having increased year on year. From 2016/17– the first year in which controlling or coercive behaviour cases reached this stage of the criminal justice system – to 2017/18, for instance, numbers increased threefold from 309 to 960. The number has since increased to 1,403 in 2020/21.

It is vital that police are able to effectively respond to domestic abuse, which is why controlling or coercive behaviour is covered extensively in the Domestic Abuse Matters training for police, with a 2020 evaluation of the programme showing a 41% increase in arrests for the offence. To strengthen the police response to domestic abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour, in the 2021 Domestic Abuse Plan, we committed up to £3.3m until 2025 to support the further rollout of this training.

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