By guest, Jun 5 2014 06:02PM
A new law came into effect on the 29th of December 2015, to protect victims of domestic violence.
Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, introduces a new domestic abuse offence of “controlling and coercive behaviour”. The offence can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or Crown court and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment a fine or both.
Critical to the offence is evidence of the repeated or continuous nature of the conduct and the ability of a reasonable person to appreciate that the behaviour will have a serious effect on the victim.
Behaviour which will be targeted under the new law includes:
• Limiting access to friends and family.
• Monitoring a person’s communications.
• “Tracking” victims via mobile apps/tracking devices.
• Habitually humiliating or embarrassing a victim.
The legislation creates a defence where a defendant can establish that they believed they were acting in a victim’s best interest and their behaviour was objectively reasonable. An example may include where someone monitors the whereabouts and movements of a partner who suffers from mental health difficulties.
They legislation has been praised by many. Women’s Aid believes the legislation is a “landmark moment”, whilst the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has said that it allows the CPS to target behaviour which can be “incredibly harmful in an abusive relationship where on person holds more power than the other”.
Training is currently taking place for police and the CPS to assist them in dealing with cases. Assessment and review will be critical as the law develops, many believing that the offence may be difficult to prosecute, as it may involve “grey” areas where the conduct in question needs careful consideration in the context of the relationships. However, in the right cases, it will allow the courts to assess the full extent of the behaviour which has taken place.
JNP Legal is a leading law firm serving the South Wales areas, providing expertise in many legal areas including family and care law, personal injury, wills and probate, criminal law and conveyancing. Contact us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or Law@jnplegal.org.