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The offence of controlling and coercive behaviour has been on the statute books for a few years now but has recently hit the headlines.
RD is a successful woman who met her ex-husband, JW, in 2001. She became the primary income earner when his business started to collapse, and his alcohol intake increased. It was at this time that his behaviour began to change to be controlling and coercive.
Incessant telephone calls began, with 150 on one day alone, he would go with her to the appointments, check her phone, open her mail and even stand outside the bathroom when she used it. After his arrest, he was bailed with conditions not to contact her but placed a tracker on her car. He had accessed the tracker via an app on his phone 250 times within 19 days. The behaviour continued for nine years.
The Court was told that RD had been left with severe debt and was facing eviction due to unpaid bills. Her health and confidence had also been affected by his behaviour.
JW pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour and stalking on the first day of his trial. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
What is the offence?
The prosecution must prove a person:
What sentences can be imposed?
The maximum sentence for this offence is five years imprisonment and can be dealt with at the magistrates' court or the crown court.
In another case, three years imprisonment was deemed appropriate for the defendant for controlling and coercive behaviour with several incidents of violence and threats over four months.
In a similar matter a defendant, Ms. S was described as exercising control over her partner from an early stage of their relationship. She pleaded guilty to wounding with intent, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and controlling and coercive behaviour. She was sentenced to concurrent sentences of seven years for each assault with six months imprisonment, to be served consecutively, for the controlling and coercive behaviour. The Court of Appeal held that the sentence was very lenient but not so much that it needed to interfere.
In a third example the defendant was sentenced to 1 year and 8 months imprisonment for the offence, with 3 months for a sexual assault. Incidents of previous violence were found against him, and that the sexual assault was part of a pattern of controlling behaviour.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us.
An evidence-based practice team from HM Prison and Probation Services have produced a report entitled "An evaluation of a brief intervention to reduce re-offending among women serving short sentences."
Over 12 months, a study was made of 255 women who were in the last 6-8 weeks of their sentence where that sentence had been less than 12 months length.
What was involved?
The women who agreed to take part were tasked with setting a daily goal, a "Best Possible Self" task and providing peer support to a fellow participant. The second task involved imagining what their life would look like in 5 years if everything went as they wanted it to. The interventions aimed to increase self-efficacy, encourage and strengthen a non-criminal identity and increase their future orientation.
Previous research indicates that there are several risk factors related to the likelihood that women on short sentences will re-offend. Those factors are binge drinking, lack of family closeness and poor temper control.
The study also wanted to assess whether self-esteem was affected by the intervention or whether it was related to resettlement or re-offending.
228 women started the trial, and within a year of release, 162 of them had been convicted of a further offence. This rate is in line with the national average for women serving short sentences. Dropping out of the trial was apparently not associated with a higher conviction rate.
The authors of the report concluded that the brief intervention had a small effect on reducing offender rates over one year, and it could improve resettlement planning. The effect of the intervention, however, was not associated with increases in future orientation, self-esteem or self-efficacy.
The report highlighted the importance of proper support to reintegrate following a prison sentence. Re-offending was associated with previous substance misuse, not having a fixed address, a lack of family contact and not having substance use support.
The authors concluded:
"The findings suggest that the structural disadvantages women face on release from prison can outweigh any psychological changes they may manage to make during a short sentence.
The study highlights the pressing need for effective services in accommodation, family support and substance use, starting in prison and continuing on release, in supporting women to live crime-free lives."
As a firm this research greatly interests us and lends support to courts imposing community penalties as opposed to short-term prison sentences.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 01792 474201
In 2006 the Association of Chief Police Officers, known as ACPO, founded a Criminal Records Office, now known as ACRO. The intention was for ACRO to organise the management of criminal record information and improve links between the records and biometric information.
ACRO's principal functions are providing police certificates, international child protection certificates and responses to subject access requests that require the collection of information from the Police National Computer (PNC).
The PNC holds all records of arrests and summons, regardless of the outcome. The record is kept until the individual is 100 years old.
DNA samples/profile and fingerprints can be taken and retained as set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The length of time that this biometric data is kept is dependent on the conviction or outcome of the case.
An individual can apply for the early deletion of records from databases held by ACRO.
These databases are the National DNA Database, National Fingerprint Database and the Police National Computer, records owned by chief officers of England and Wales. It is important to note that ACRO is a separate entity to the DBS, and they do not have any involvement in the information disclosed on a DBS certificate. On an enhanced DBS certificate, the police have a responsibility to disclose certain information, but this process is entirely separate to the record deletion process (RDP)
Record Deletion Process
RDP is the process by which an individual can apply to have their PNC or biometric information deleted.
Eligibility to apply is dependent on certain criteria; detailed below is a list of circumstances in which you are eligible to apply:
There are over 400 'qualifying offences' including murder, rape, assaults, robbery, burglary and sex offences. Minor offences are those which are not 'qualifying offences'.
You are not eligible to apply if the following apply:
A recent Court of Appeal case has ruled on the appropriateness of protective orders when a life sentence is in place.