Northants Police yet to prosecute anyone using new Coercive Control law six months after it was introduced

Domestic violence drop

Domestic violence drop

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Northamptonshire Police has failed to prosecute anyone using a new Coercive Control (CC) law, six months after it was introduced.

The county force is one of eight in England and Wales that had not used the new law, which came into force on December 29, 2015, by the end of June this year.

The law was an attempt by the Government to tackle controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships.

Three forces - Kent, Hertfordshire and Norfolk - all reported prosecutions of 10 or more, but most forces have launched fewer than five Coercive Control actions between December 2015 and June 2016.

Emma Pearmaine, head of family services at law firm Simpson Millar, says more specialist training for police officers may be needed.

She said: “Coercive control can be many things but, essentially, it comes down to people exerting control via a pattern of behaviours, and these can sometimes be difficult to spot from the outside if you don’t know where to look or which questions to ask.

“More dedicated training on the new legislation and how coercion can impact on a victim’s life might help push up the number of people who are identified as offenders, and prosecuted.”

The law firm said victims should not stay silent, but keep a diary of what might be abusive events and make a formal complaint to the police as soon as they feel controlled or threatened by their partner or other family member.

“We know that coercion and control often leads to physical violence and it would be a shame if this new law isn’t used to its full effect,” Mrs Pearmaine said.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire Police said the force was committed to tackling domestic abuse in all its forms.

She said: “The new area of law relating to coercive control forms part of our overall range of options for dealing with offenders and victims in a way that promotes ‘sustained public protection’.

“Officers have undergone comprehensive training in this new area of law. Because it is so new, it will obviously take time to see successful prosecutions move through the system.

“We have a specialist team of officers in our dedicated domestic abuse unit and have recently carried out a summer campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse, particularly to highlight the control element.”