Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship – Home Office guidelines

s76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour within intimate relationships. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

The Home Office defines controlling behaviour 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”.

It further defines coercive behaviour as “a continuing act or a pattern of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim”.

The creation of the offence recognises the impact that such behaviours can have on the victim within a familial relationship in the absence of physical abuse, meaning that victims can seek redress without proving physical assault, and without the need to otherwise rely on the family court system.

Carol Robinson is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email