Controlling and coercive behaviour – Section 76: new offence created

January 8, 2016, By


On 29th December 2015 a new criminal offence was introduced to protect victims of emotional and psychological abuse by a partner or family member. The offence recognises the impact that controlling behaviour can have and acknowledges that domestic abuse frequently does not involve actual violence.

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 states that if your partner, someone you are in a close relationship with (or have previously been in a relationship with) or a family member continuously tries to control you and this causes you serious worry or distress, then they have committed an offence and could be sent to prison for up to five years and/or fined.

It is often the case that some victims do not recognise that they are being abused or the scale and extent of the abuse. As a result Woman’s Aid (a leading charity that campaigns against domestic abuse) has issued guidelines of what constitutes coercive behaviour by an abuser, including:

  • being put down and told you are worthless
  • being stopped from working or going to school/college/university
  • having your money taken away or controlled
  • being isolated from friends and family
  • having access to food, drinks and day-to-day products restricted
  • having how you spend your time and who you spend your time with being monitored
  • having your social media accounts – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – monitored or controlled
  • being told what you should wear
  • being threatened with violence if you do not behave in a certain way
  • having threats made to loved ones or pets
  • being threatened with damage to personal property

If you or anyone you know is suffering or at risk of suffering controlling or coercive behaviour, report the abuse to the police. The police now have increased powers to tackle emotional and psychological abuse.

You may also need the protection of a Non-Molestation Order from the civil court. This is an order preventing a party from molesting another person which can include harassing, intimidating, threatening or being violent towards the other party. Such orders can also prohibit a party coming within a certain distance of the other party or their property.

For more information or assistance please contact our Family Team on 0161 969 3131.