Update: Serious Crime Act


Changes to the Serious Crime Act in December 2015 means that The Crown Prosecution Service has new powers to bring charges where repeated, controlling domestic abuse has taken place within a relationship (partner or familial).

Domestic abuse word cloud

A sentence of up to 5 years in prison can be given, and does not have to be related to physical abuse.

What Has Changed?

The changes to the Act relate to psychological bullying such as coercion, controlling behaviour such as limiting access to money, documents (such as passports), and social media access.

With many domestic abuse cases, not all of the abuse is physical; and long term psychological damage can be done if the abuser repeatedly emotionally abuses their victim. Making coercive control a criminal offence does much to protect victims of domestic abuse.

The changes to the law are now mean the remit of 'abuse' is more complex, and will likely lead to more challenges over precisely what constitutes criminal behaviour.

Think Someone You Know Is Being Abused?

If you're concerned that a family member, friend, or loved one, is being abused there are a few things to look out for:

  • They're increasingly isolated from people who they were once close with
  • They seem to have less access to money, bank accounts, or their mobile phone
  • They stop posting on social media, or cut off all contact
  • They change the way they dress dramatically
  • Their personality has changed, or changes in the presence of their partner

Are You Being Abused?

If you think you are being abused, there are a few things you can collect as evidence:

  • Emails, texts, or voicemails from your abuser,
  • Bank statements to show whether things are being bought or limited,
  • Statements from your family and friends.

With the changes to the Act, you will now have up to two years to report the abuser, whereas before you only had six months.

Simpson Millar's Cardiff based family law Solicitor, Jenine Abdo Comments:

"As a Solicitor who holds legal clinics within the community, like at Cardiff Women’s Aid, I am so pleased to see the criminal law changes which can now help those who do suffer from abuse which is not just physical.

Mental, emotional and verbal abuse as well as your life being completely controlled by someone else is just as debilitating. Although there is a high threshold to meet, it is an option for many people suffering at the hands of another.

It is also good to make people aware that injunctions can be obtained within the family courts for those suffering any form or type of domestic abuse/violence."

Simpson Millar Can Help You

If you, or someone you know is a victim of abuse, Simpson Millar's expert team can help by discussing every option available on a confidential basis. We don't confuse you with jargon – we just provide excellent, straightforward legal advice so you can move forward with your case.

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