Tough measures against domestic abuse in UK: Controlling or coercive behaviour is same as physical violence
Monday 20 February 2023 8:27 PM UTC
LONDON Feb 20: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday unveiled tougher new measures to crack down on domestic abusers, including electronic tags for the most dangerous offenders who subject women and girls to harassment, aggression and violence.
Downing Street said that as part of a change in law, for the first time controlling or coercive behaviour will be on a par with physical violence.
This will mean that offenders sentenced to a year or more imprisonment or a suspended sentence for domestic abuse will automatically be actively managed by the police, prison and probation services under multi-agency public protection arrangements.
“No woman or girl should ever have to feel unsafe in her home or community and I am determined to stamp out these appalling crimes,” said Sunak.
“As well as extra support for victims, we’re making it a priority for the police to tackle violence against women and girls and toughening up the way offenders are managed – preventing more of these crimes from happening in the first place, and bringing more perpetrators to justice,” said the British-Indian leader.
From this week, those at risk of, or suffering from, domestic abuse will be able to receive emergency help from one of 18 jobs and benefit offices across the UK, and a new postcode checker will tell them their nearest location to access the service. A scheme named Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately), already in operation, will be expanded to guide victims to a safe and private space and offered support to call the police or specialist domestic abuse services.
“The Ask for ANI scheme provides a lifeline for anyone suffering from domestic abuse and we will continue to expand the scheme so that more people can access it, including piloting this service in the first job centres,” added Mr Sunak.
While the legislation goes through Parliament, police and the probation service have been directed to start work immediately to ensure that offenders sentenced to a year or more for controlling and coercive behaviour are recorded on the violent and sex offender register. In addition, abusers could be fitted with a tag, prevented from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home, and made to attend a behaviour change programme, as part of a trial of domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders in three areas in the UK.
“Domestic abuse is a despicable crime that leads to people’s closest relationships becoming a frightening existence of torment, pain, fear, and anxiety,” said UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
“It is completely unacceptable and as Home Secretary I will do everything in my power to stop it… police forces in England and Wales will now have to treat violence against women and girls as a national threat and more victims will be protected from harm,” the Indian-origin minister added.
This means tackling crimes against women will be treated on par with tackling threats like terrorism, serious and organised crime and child sexual abuse. The announcement comes in the wake of a string of recent high-profile cases of violence against women involving serving or former police officers.
“Policing is committed to protecting victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice. We welcome the raft of measures aimed at tackling domestic abuse in many forms,” said Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Domestic Abuse.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you can’t speak and are calling on a mobile press 55 to have your call transferred to the police.
Recognise domestic abuse
Does your partner, ex-partner or someone you live with:
cut you off from family and friends and intentionally isolate you?
bully, threaten, or control you?
take control of your finances?
monitor or limit your use of technology?
physically and/or sexually abuse you?
Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:
coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
threats and intimidation
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.
If you believe that you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs that you can look out for including:
being withdrawn, or being isolated from your family and friends
having bruises, burns or bite marks on you
having your finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food, medication or pay bills
not being allowed to leave your house, or stopped from going to college or work
having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails or letters
being repeatedly belittled, put down or told you are worthless
being pressured into sex or sexual contact
being told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting
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