A new law that comes into force today targeting domestic abusers, has been welcomed by Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer.
John Dwyer said: “Key to the work I do is meeting with and listening to the concerns of survivors of domestic abuse, this enables me to understand some of the issues the police face when dealing with cases of domestic abuse.
“So to see this new legislation is very pleasing, it allows police officers to prosecute where there is evidence of controlling behaviour, which previously was difficult to do and is something I have identified as a concern for survivors of domestic abuse.”
The legislation means that victims who experience coercive and controlling behaviour that stops short of serious physical violence, but amounts to extreme psychological and emotional abuse, can bring the person abusing them to justice.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment, a fine or both.
John Dwyer said: “The legislation has been designed to close a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in an ongoing relationship between intimate partners or family members.”
Controlling behaviour is defined as a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
The legislation will target those who subject spouses, partners and family members to psychological and emotional torment but stop short of violence.
PCC John Dwyer said: “With this new legislation in force officers will have even more tools in their armoury to tackle those who target the vulnerable, and as a caring Constabulary, this will help us to continue to protect those who need us when they need us, where they need us.”