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
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015
  • Elements of the offence
  • Statutory Guidance
  • Defence
  • Sentencing
  • Causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to die or suffer serious physical harm
  • Other offences which may be relevant
  • How are domestic abuse cases investigated and prosecuted?

Controlling or coercive behaviour offences

This Practice Note considers the offences of controlling or coercive behaviour under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 and causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to die or suffer serious physical harm under section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

For information on domestic abuse, see: Domestic abuse—overview.

Controlling or coercive behaviour offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created an offence criminalising controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where the behaviour has a serious effect on the victim. The offence was created to close a perceived gap in the law relating to patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour that can occur during a relationship between intimate partners, former partners who still live together or family members, where individual instances would not be sufficient to constitute an offence. It also recognises the harm which can be caused by coercion or control, the cumulative impact on the victim and that a repeated pattern of abuse can be more injurious and harmful than a single incident of violence.

Elements of the offence

It is an offence for a person (A) when:

  1. they repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive

  2. at the time of the behaviour, A and B are

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