New Law On Domestic Violence

23 December, 2014

Today Theresa May has announced she will bring before Parliament a proposal for a new crime of “coercive and controlling behaviour” to target non-physical forms of domestic abuse.

I remember 20 or more years ago speaking to a police officer who specialised in domestic violence (there weren’t many of them around in those days) who said that he thought controlling behaviour was a feature in every case of domestic violence he ever dealt with.

His comment had a lasting impact on me as I have tested it against every single domestic violence case I have since acted on (which must run to the hundreds of cases) and I have found his words to be true. If only we could redraw the rules of marriage and relationships to make coercive and controlling behaviour as socially unacceptable as, say, smoking in public buildings has become. This new law might just go some way to achieve that.

Domestic violence, whether physical or emotional, has no place in modern relationships. The family court already has extensive powers to control either partners’ behaviour, but I am certainly hopeful that this new law, when enacted, will help change our culture still further by making it plain to those in relationships that they must control their behaviour not their partner.