Surviving Economic Abuse is delighted by the government’s announcement that it will support an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which will lead to post-separation abuse becoming a criminal offence.
Months of campaigning alongside survivors, activists, academics, MPs and Peers has successfully resulted in a better Bill for victims-survivors, offering them greater safety.
Today’s Home Office announcement also follows a review of the introduction of a coercive control offence in Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act (2015).
As the only UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of economic abuse, we welcome the Government’s decision to amend the Serious Crime Act via the Domestic Abuse Bill.
Recognising post-separation abuse, including often hidden economic abuse, in law is a significant step forward in acknowledging and naming victim-survivors experiences; supporting them to find justice through holding the abuser-perpetrator to account across the full range of their abusive behaviours.
While we are pleased with this decision, it is just the beginning. There is more to be done to ensure the legislation will make a positive and direct impact to the lives of victim-survivors.
Awareness raising continues to be vital. We know that the majority of coercive controlling behaviour is not reported to the police, and many victims do not immediately recognise what is happening to them.
Police officers must be fully trained to understand, recognise and evidence coercive control. Currently, just under half of police forces in England and Wales have not received training in coercive and controlling or coercive behaviour. Government must provide funding to correct this deficit and prevent victims from a postcode lottery when they seek help.
Additionally, in agreement with the Home Office review, legislation should be monitored when it is in place. Vital to making this happen is a common statistical definition of coercive control.
Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, founder and CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse, said, “We are thrilled with the announcement. Now the law will protect victims from ongoing coercion and control, including economic abuse. I would like to thank the victim-survivors who shared their experiences with us and identified that this change was needed. We’re also hugely grateful to Jess Phillips MP and Baroness Ruth Lister for championing the amendment in Parliament.”
Baroness Lister of Burtersett said, “I’m delighted at this concession, which will strengthen the Domestic Abuse Bill enormously. I pay tribute to SEA, who have campaigned tirelessly, and to the many women subject to post-separation abuse who have spoken out so courageously for their role in persuading the government to do the right thing.”
Anna’s* experience of post-separation abuse was shared in parliament. Anna said, “I am overjoyed by the government’s decision to recognise post-separation abuse in the Domestic Abuse Bill. This type of abuse has affected every part of my daily life; it has seemed to be endless and has left me feeling helpless and powerless to affect change. Knowing this will now be a criminal offence is a huge relief. I am delighted and proud that my story has helped raise awareness and played a part in pushing this much needed amendment through.”
Cassandra Wiener, academic expert in coercive control and criminal law, said, “I am absolutely thrilled at the news that the Surviving Economic Abuse campaign to have post-separation abuse recognised in the Domestic Abuse Bill 2021 has succeeded. Removing the faulty residency requirement in the coercive control law means that, for the first time, post-separation abuse can be recognised and prosecuted for what it is: coercive control of the worst, most debilitating kind. Thank you to Baronesses Burtin and Andrews for their strong leadership and commitment in this important area.”
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