Greater Manchester Police have recorded more than 750 crimes as coercive and controlling behaviour since a change in the law made this possible.
The legislation, which has been in place since 29 December 2015 means that victims who are subjected to repeated or continuous behaviour that is controlling or coercive can bring their perpetrators to justice.
In the first year of the legislation, Greater Manchester Police dealt with 126 crimes where coercive and controlling behaviour was a factor. Of these, 32 per cent resulted in a criminal justice outcome. Between December 2016 to November 2017 628 crimes were dealt with and 19 per cent were dealt with by way of criminal justice outcome*.
Detective Superintendent Denise Worth from Greater Manchester Police, said: “Our results indicate that we are heading in the right direction. However we can’t rest on our laurels and together with our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service we need to do more to support and protect victims of domestic abuse.
“Some of the work that we have been carrying out has included working more closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to improve the overall response and support provided to victims. We have both trained our staff so that they can fully understand the legislation and know the best ways to support victims and signpost to relevant partners.
“We know from our own evidence that this type of abuse is less likely to be reported to us, which is why it’s so important that we effectively train our officers so that members of the public know that if they report the crime it will be taken seriously.
“Coercive and controlling behaviour is a damaging form of domestic abuse to which victims often describe how they lose a sense of themselves.”
GMP is asking everyone to trust their instincts and spot the signs. These can include 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. This is along with behaviour that is designed to make the victim 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 by regulating their everyday behaviour.
Cheryl Hramiak, Senior District Crown Prosecutor, CPS North West said: "Controlling and coercive behaviour is an insidious crime. It can have as devastating an impact as physical abuse on the lives of victims, particularly in domestic abuse cases where one person holds more power than the other. It often involves the victim being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation or subordination and can limit their basic human rights, such as their freedom of movement and their independence.
“Together with Greater Manchester Police we have been training our investigators and prosecutors on the specific challenges of this offence and providing them with practical advice on how to approach cases, particularly about the types of evidence that might be relevant and admissible at court as well as guidance on understanding the behaviour of perpetrators.
“This legislation is helping to prevent harmful behaviour and provide greater safeguarding for victims, with offenders facing up to five years imprisonment. We hope that further awareness and use of this legislation will empower victims to come forward to report these crimes and seek support.”
Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said: “Victims of coercive and controlling behaviour may not see themselves as a victim, but the impact of this type of abuse is devastating. Controlling someone through fear, isolating them from friends and family, or constantly belittling or degrading them, takes away a persons’ identity and sense of worth.
“In Greater Manchester, I’m pleased to see that this legislation and the work of the police and criminal justice system has empowered more people to speak out. However, while this should bring hope and confidence to others that there is help and protection available, there is more to be done. As Deputy Mayor I will continue to work closely with our police, criminal justice partners and support services to ensure every victim of abuse gets the help they want and need.”
Further information about coercive and controlling behaviour can be found at www.gmp.police.uk/domesticabuse or by contacting Greater Manchester Police on 101. For further support on domestic abuse, visit www.sittingrightwithyou.com or call the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 236 7525.
If there is any immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, dial 999.