Domestic abuse - there's no excuse (10 Oct 2017)

Domestic Abuse Mates A4West Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner are launching their latest campaign aimed at tackling domestic abuse to coincide with West Yorkshire Safeguarding Week.

The campaign's focus is highlighting a lesser-known type of domestic abuse, the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour.

Coercive and controlling behaviour became an offence in December 2015 and gives powers to the authorities to bring prosecutions for psychological abuse, closing the gap in the law around patterns of such behaviour.

The offence carries a maximum 5 year prison sentence and a fine.

Controlling acts may include, but not be exclusive to, manipulation, intimidation, sexual coercion and psychological abuse. The behaviour is intended to make a person become submissive, or to isolate them from sources of support, such as their friends and family. It might include monitoring their time, or communication with others, including checking someone's mobile phone or online communication.

It could also be exploiting their resources, such as their wages or access to money, depriving them of their independence and trying to regulate or control every day behaviour such as where they can go, who they can see and what to wear.

It may be stopping someone accessing specialist support services, repeatedly putting them down, humiliating or degrading them and making threats to hurt them or their children, or publish private information about them.

Something that may seem like harmless behaviour in isolation, can have devastating effects on a victim when they are subjected to repeated controlling behaviour.  We would encourage people to speak to someone about any behaviour that is concerning them, all reports will be treated sensitively and taken seriously.

Perpetrators and victims can be from all backgrounds. Offences can be committed by anyone living together, or who has previously lived together, and could be parents and children and siblings as well as those in 'intimate' relationships. As with all domestic abuse it affects both men and women, as well as those in same-sex relationships.  Perpetrators and victims may be any age or gender and may not recognise that they are in fact a victim.

Although launched during West Yorkshire Safeguarding Week, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the Force, with officers always ready to support and help anyone who may be a victim of any form of domestic abuse.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said; "Protecting vulnerable people continues to be top priority for West Yorkshire Police and we are committed to tackling domestic abuse in all its forms and keeping people safe from harm.

"The misconception is that domestic abuse has to be physical. This simply isn't the case, there are people living with all kinds of abusive behaviour and living with fear and intimidation that we can help to protect under this legislation.

"Whilst the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour is still relatively new, officers across West Yorkshire have already been actively utilising it and have had a number of successful convictions brought against offenders.

"Abuse comes in many forms, but it is never acceptable. We know that repeated patterns of psychological abuse can sometimes be more harmful than a single incident of physical violence. I would encourage anyone who is living with abuse, or knows someone who could be vulnerable to seek help and support. Our teams understand how difficult it can be for people to come forward and treat each and every case with the utmost sensitivity to support the victim.

"We have dedicated multi-agency safeguarding specialists across all our districts, whose primary objective is protecting people from harm and keeping them safe. If you do not want to speak to police, there are other agencies who can offer you support.

"Our number one priority in all cases of abuse is protecting the victim and any other people that could be vulnerable to abuse. We will do everything we can to keep them safe."

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "No one should have to live with abuse of any kind, especially not from someone that's supposed to care for them. However abuse isn't always obvious to the victim or those around them so that's why we've developed this new campaign to raise awareness and encourage people to get help.

"Here in West Yorkshire we take domestic abuse very seriously and our Domestic and Sexual Abuse Board recently launched a Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy for delivery by partners across West Yorkshire. The Board and Strategy ensure a fully joined up approach across our partners including the police, local councils, criminal justice organisations, health and social care.

"Our message is simple, if you are being abused or you suspect someone is being abused, report it immediately. We have a range of services and partners ready to support any victims and tackle offending."

If you are a victim, or know someone who could be a victim you can speak to police, or other agencies that can help. You can contact police via 101, in an emergency always call 999.

For more information and a list of organisations who can help visit


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