Coercive control: Cheshire Police plea for more victims to speak up

Cheshire police say they need more victims to come forward and report coercive and controlling behaviour so that they can offer the support that victims need to leave abusive relationships.

A Freedom of Information request made by Granada Reports showed just over 1% of people arrested under the coercive and controlling offen

ce were convicted, and that's just from the forces in the North West that had comprehensive statistics.

Police forces say there are two main reasons why the statistics are so low.

  • It is hard to convict a perpetrator for coercive and controlling behaviour as it is hard to collect evidence.

  • A lot of people pull out once they have reported the crime, so it never gets to court.

Cheshire Police have made Domestic Abuse and Coercive controlling behaviour a major priority.

When someone calls Cheshire Police they don't just send police officers out to them, they risk asses the call and point people to the support that they need.

In the force control room thousands of calls are answered every day. Call handlers speak to victims and offer essential support, as well as prepping officers for attending scenes.

Chris Williams, the Chief Inspector of the Control Room, says a large part of what they do involves education.

The force also has a Harm Reduction Unit which works with victims and perpetrators to change their behaviour and limit the chance of them re-offending.

Detective Superintendent Louise Cherrington from the unit says often it is the first time anybody has spoken to perpetrators about their behaviour and its impact.

She added: "If we stop people from offending and protect the victims, give them the independence and their life back for society it's far cheaper than people coming through the police service, investigations, imprisonment and then back out and doing the same."

There is also has a specialist Domestic Abuse Car, manned with two officers who work on all domestic abuse cases, plus all frontline officers who go out to calls are trained to spot domestic abuse and coercive control.

Denise Worth from Cheshire Police says that most domestic abuse cases are underpinned by coercive control.

She says: "Coercive control can start in a relationship really early on in very small doses and it can gradually get worse and worse, so the victim is then in a situation where they didn't see it coming, they didn't feel like a victim at the very beginning and it's really hard to collate that to then take it through the criminal justice system."

The force say that they aim to take a joined up approach to tackling domestic abuse by working with partners such as local charities and the NHS.

With all this being done it's still a notoriously hard crime to prosecute with the stats across England not much better than the ones in our region.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service and the Office of National Statistics, coercive and controling behaviour offence convictions were 11% in 2017/18 and 6% in 2018/19

As of May 2021 the government has reviewed the offence and made changes that should result in more people being convicted.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by domestic abuse and want to get in touch with someone about it, here are a few organisations that may find helpful.

Please remember, in an Emergency, call 999.