Law Firm Launches Domestic Abuse Training For The Police


The Law Of... coercive control

Simpson Millar is working with the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence to launch a national domestic violence training scheme after its research highlighted a lack of action under new Coercive Control law.

Law firm launches domestic abuse training for the Police

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 law firm Simpson Millar found 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.

In a bid to raise awareness of what coercive control 'looks like', and how the new law can be used to punish offenders, Simpson Millar and domestic violence charity, the Corporate Alliance, have launched a training scheme specifically for the Police.

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 session taking place at a training day on 29 November.

John Pratley is head of Family Services at Simpson Millar. Aside from representing victims of domestic abuse, he also helps educate employers about how they can support employees who might be victims of abuse.

He says: "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."

"Coercive control is a debilitating issue for thousands of women especially, across the country. If the Police are alerted and involved at an earlier stage of domestic abuse – before the abuse becomes physical and violent – they will save more lives. But the figures we obtained this summer suggest that the new law isn’t yet being used to its full effect and that is a shame."

"Victims aren’t always aware that they are being isolated from friends and family, or know that what their partner is doing to them is a crime. It can be extremely difficult for anyone to identify them as victims. By understanding and being tuned in to the most common indicators of abuse, Police officers on the front line can help identify victims far sooner. Helping officers to do that is one of the core elements of the training we are now offering to all UK Police forces."

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