Rising number of coercive control crimes in South Yorkshire

A rising number of offences for controlling and coercive behaviour are being recorded in South Yorkshire, figures show.

Friday, 29th July 2022, 12:37 pm
Updated Friday, 29th July 2022, 12:37 pm

The latest recorded crime statistics – which also show a rise in offences nationally – come amid criticism of ITV over the alleged “misogyny and controlling behaviour” of several male contestants on popular dating show Love Island.

Home Office figures show South Yorkshire Police received 1,138 reports of controlling and coercive behaviour in the year to March – up from 1,005 in 2020-21, the first year such crimes are recorded in the data.

Coercive control, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, has been a criminal offence since landmark legislation was introduced in 2015.

Coercive control is punishable by up to five years imprisonment

Abusers can be punished for subjecting a partner or family member to controlling behaviour such as isolating them, exploiting them financially, depriving them of basic needs, humiliating, frightening or threatening them.

Across England and Wales, 41,300 offences of controlling and coercive behaviour were recorded in 2021-22 – up more than a third from 30,800 the year before.

Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid recently confirmed it was in talks with ITV after viewers expressed concern over “misogyny and controlling behaviour” allegedly portrayed by some of the male contestants on Love Island.

The charity said it had been tagged in “a stream of Twitter posts” by viewers who were worried about the way female islanders were being treated by some of their partners.

Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the charity Victim Support, said: “It is so important that we recognise emotional abuse for what it is and call it out when we see it.

"TV, streaming and other social media has normalised coercive and controlling behaviour, and this has serious consequences.

"Domestic abuse isn’t only physical violence – and manipulative behaviour has no place in healthy relationships.”

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Different figures suggest victims are becoming less likely to get their day in court, with just 3.9 per cent of cases closed in 2021-22 ending in a charge or summons – down from 4.1 per cent.

Mr DeMarco said the rise in offences could be more people reporting abuse to the police, but it is "concerning" that the number of charges for these crimes are also dropping.

He added: "This absolutely needs to change and victims need to know they will be listened to and get the justice they deserve when they come forward."

In South Yorkshire, 1,044 coercive control cases were closed last year, with 75.3 per cent abandoned due to difficulties gathering evidence and 8.4 per cent resulting in a suspect being charged or summonsed to court.

This is compared to 72 per cent abandoned and 8.5 per cent charged in 2020-21.

ITV previously said in a statement: “We cannot stress highly enough how seriously we treat the emotional wellbeing of all of our islanders.

“Welfare is always our greatest concern and we have dedicated welfare producers and psychological support on hand at all times, who monitor and regularly speak to all of the islanders in private and off camera."

The Home Office said controlling or coercive behaviour is a "particularly insidious" form of domestic abuse.

A spokeswoman added: “That is why our landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 extended the controlling or coercive behaviour offence so it will apply regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator live together."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Dominic Brown, editor.