Controlling or coercive behaviour offences
Controlling or coercive behaviour offences

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Controlling or coercive behaviour offences
  • What is domestic abuse?
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015
  • Elements of the offence
  • Statutory Guidance
  • Defence
  • Sentencing
  • Causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable child or adult
  • Improving conviction rates for domestic violence
  • The approach to prosecuting cases of domestic violence
  • More...

What is domestic abuse?

There is no statutory offence of domestic violence or domestic abuse, however, it generally refers to any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality. The terms ‘domestic violence’ and domestic abuse’ are sometimes used interchangeably however current practice prefers the term’ domestic abuse’.

In its Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Domestic Abuse Guidelines for prosecutors, the CPS states that domestic violence and domestic abuse are terms describing a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship.

Examples of domestic abuse include:

  1. physical

  2. emotional

  3. sexual

  4. psychological, or

  5. financial

The term ‘domestic abuse’ therefore can be applied to a number of offences committed in a domestic environment. For information on offences which can be committed within a domestic setting, see Practice Notes:

  1. Harassment offences

  2. Assault occasioning actual bodily harm

  3. Common assault and battery

  4. Wounding or causing grievous bodily harm with intent

  5. Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm

  6. Involuntary manslaughter

  7. Murder

  8. Rape

  9. Sexual assault

The government definition of domestic violence was widened in 2013 to include young people under the age of 18. The definition described domestic violence as:

'any incident or pattern of incidents

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