Refuge opposes criminalisation of coercive control

The Government has today (Thursday 18 December 2014) announced that it plans to criminalise coercive control. Refuge’s statement below:


Sandra Horley CORRECT HEADSHOT 2014Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, says:
“Refuge recognises that the Government is trying to address violence against women and girls, but we do not believe that criminalising coercive control is the right solution. We already have enough laws – the problem is that they are not being implemented properly. The police don’t even arrest when there is evidence of serious physical violence, so how are police and juries ever going to understand complex concepts like coercive control?

Controlling behaviour can be incredibly subtle and isn’t always ‘coercive’. Extreme jealousy and possessiveness, for example, can be dressed up to look like ‘care’ or ‘concern’. Providing evidence of such behaviours to satisfy criminal standards is likely to be extremely difficult. Introducing a new offence of coercive control could also have unintended consequences. It could lead to police officers treating it as a separate, less serious category of crime. Serious physical offences could be downgraded and perpetrators under-charged.

“We need to get back to basics. The police response to domestic violence is lamentable – forces across the country are failing in their most basic of policing duties towards victims of domestic violence. Women and children are also let down by other state agencies. This is why Refuge is calling for a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to domestic violence. We need to understand why so many women and children are still not getting the support and protection they deserve. We need to create meaningful change in all state agencies. Until that happens, women and children will continue to die in huge numbers at the hands of violent men. Please add your voice to our campaign and sign our petition calling for a public inquiry.”

For more information on the new legislation, click here.