Serious Crime Act 2015

Serious Crime Act 2015

Coercive control became a crime under the Serious Crime Act 2015. It applies in England and Wales. There is also a similar new law in Scotland, the Domestic Abuse bill, which outlaws abusive behaviour, including psychological abuse such as coercive and controlling behaviour. The bill was passed by a majority of 118 to one.
There are rather similar laws in several European countries and in Australia.

It applies when one member of a family exerts coercive or controlling behaviour over another member who is aged 16 or over.

The perpetrator can be jailed for up to 5 years. Since 2015, the new law has led to 3937 arrests, of which 666 have been charged and 309 offences have reached a first hearing in court, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says.

According to the official Statutory Guidance, the controlling behaviour of the perpetrator can include:

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family

  • Monitoring their time

  • Monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware

  • Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep

  • Depriving them access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services

  • Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless

  • Control ability to go to school or place of study

  • Preventing a person from having access to transport or from working

  • Preventing a person from being able to attend school, college or University

  • Limiting access to family, friends and finances