Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by Andrew Todd (DAB16)

Domestic Abuse Bill: Public Bill Committee

Controlling or Coercive Behaviour by Family Members

1. Summary

1.1 Controlling or Coercive Behaviour is an offence under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 when carried out by an intimate partner, regardless of living arrangements, but by a relative only when abuser and victim are living together. The offence therefore fails to protect vulnerable people who, though living independently, are subjected to essentially the same form of abuse through relationships of dependency within families. Although such abuse by a family member living separately falls within the existing non-statutory definition of domestic abuse, as well as the proposed statutory definition in the Bill, there is at present no suitable offence under which it can be prosecuted.

1.2 This exclusion from the section 76 offence leaves a significant class of victims unprotected by the criminal law.

1.3 The submission in my name (indicating my interest in the matter) to the Joint Legislative Scrutiny Committee on the Domestic Abuse Bill at https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/legislative-scrutiny/parliament-2017/draft-domestic-violence-and-abuse-bill-17-19/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter summarises evidence of the incidence and often hidden nature of this abuse, unaddressed by the existing section 76 offence. The effect on elderly and disabled people in particular is highlighted. This evidence also explains that the abuse concerned will not in general be covered by any other existing offence.

1.4 Controlling or coercive behaviour by a relative living apart from their victim was not, however, considered in the June 2019 Report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

1.5 A similar exclusion from section 76 as enacted applies to abuse by former partners, but is not discussed in the present submission.

2. Amendment

A suitable amendment to rectify the above omission in section 76 is at ANNEX 1.


ANNEX 1

Amendment to Section 76, Serious Crime Act 2015

XX Controlling or coercive behaviour offence

(1) In Part 5 (protection of children and others) of the Serious Crime Act 2015, Section 76 (controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2)-

(a) For paragraph (b) substitute-

"(b) A and B are members of the same family, or".

(b) After that paragraph insert-

" (c) A and B live together and have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.".

(3) In subsection (6), for " " substitute " ".

Existing Section 76

(2) A and B are "personally connected" if-

(a) A is in an intimate personal relationship with B, or

(b) A and B live together and-

(i) they are members of the same family, or

(ii) they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

(6) For the purposes of subsection  (2)(b)( i )  A and B are members of the same family if-

(a) they are, or have been, married to each other;

(c) they are relatives;

(7) In subsection  (6) -

"relative" has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

Section 76 as amended

(2) A and B are "personally connected" if-

(a) A is in an intimate personal relationship with B, or

(b) A and B are members of the same family, or

( c) A and B live together and have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

( 6) For the purposes of subsection  (2)(b)  A and B are members of the same family if-

October 2019

 

Prepared 31st October 2019