New Domestic Abuse Law

Posted 05 January 2016 by Dawn Pennell

You may have recentlyseen reports in the news that the law relating to prosecutions for domestic abuse has changed but what is the change and what effect could it have on you?

Until recently domestic abuse could only be prosecuted if the behaviour was physical or it could be proved to have caused psychiatric injury. However domestic abuse is not just physical violence so, in the past, this has resulted in the majority of incidents of psychological abuse not being prosecuted.

With effect from 29th December 2015 coercive or controlling domestic abuse became a crime under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 which is punishable by up to five years in prison. This is the case even if that abuse stops short of being physical violence.

The new legislation will enable the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges when there is evidence of repeated, or continuous, controlling or coercive behaviour within an intimate or family relationship. Such abuse could include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation, or behaviour such as stopping your partner from socialising, controlling their social media accounts, dictating what they wear or controlling access to bank accounts.

Often one person holds more power than the other and victims may be frightened of the repercussions of not abiding by someone else’s rules perhaps fearing that violence may be used against them.

With the Citizens Advice Bureau reporting that 1,500 people sought help for domestic abuse between July and September 2015 (that figure being a rise of 24% on the same period in the previous year) this has to be a welcome addition to the options already available to the Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service.

This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that any law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.

Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.



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