The ‘Coercive Control Framework’: Making Law Work for Women
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The potential efficacy of a new offence of coercive control will be determined by the constellation of factors that surround its implementation. Drawing on experiences with s 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (E&W) in England and Wales and the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 (Scot), these factors are identified as: a coherent national strategic framework; an articulation of the current dilemma posed to the justice system by policing domestic violence; centralised coordination by justice professionals; activist pressure from advocacy organisations such as Women’s Aid; and exhibitions of political will. I endorse the comprehensive, bespoke offence crafted in Scotland; however, the cases of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic also illustrate how meaningful reform can be achieved despite narrow or ambiguous statutory language. I conclude by responding to critics of the new offence as ‘more law’, and by clarifying the definition of coercive control and the underlying value commitments.
KeywordsDomestic abuse offence Coercive control Human rights abuse Law enforcement Social change
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