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College of Policing Pilot Scheme aims to tackle Coercive Control

Published: 30th September 2016

The College of Policing is running a new pilot scheme designed to aid the police in being able to recognise when somebody is being controlled by their partner.

This comes as the College believe that ‘coercive control’, which involves somebody taking complete control over somebody else’s life, could be the most high risk form of abuse, particularly within relationships as it has been found to have lasting effects on the victims physical and psychological well being.

After extensive research into the subject, it was found that police officers were not always able to identify victims of coercive control due to the fact that they tend to focus on specific incidents, rather than looking for potential patterns of abuse.

Three police forces will take part in the scheme, whereby selected officers from the different forces will be taught how to identify abusive behaviour earlier in the process so that preventive action can be taken.

David Tucker, the College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice, said: 'We know in some cases of coercive control that violence is threatened in combination with surveillance and other tactics of intimidation which allow perpetrators to exert almost complete control over a victim's life without recourse to physical violence.'

He continued: 'This pilot will assist frontline officers in identifying patterns of abusive behaviour and in particular it will help improve officers' understanding of the risks around coercive control. We want to support the police service to be more effective in protecting people from the devastating impact domestic abuse can have. We acknowledge the efforts of police and partners in tackling domestic abuse and hope this new tool will help focus attention on a form of abuse that can be less obvious but high risk.'

Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Polly Neate, said: 'At Women's Aid we campaigned to have coercive control recognised in law, as it is at the heart of domestic abuse, and we are proud to be working with the College of Policing on the delivery of this training.'

'We warmly welcome this pilot to support officers in understanding controlling and abusive behaviour, and the subsequent review of how the DASH tool is used with survivors, to ensure there is best practice when supporting victims and recording information. It is vital that officers have a thorough understanding of coercive control and consistent training available to them, so they are able to understand how domestic abuse perpetrators behave and read abusive situations accordingly', she continued.

Officers currently use a tool called DASH to assess domestic abuse incidents. DASH is an effective Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour-based violence risk identification, assessment and management model.

A study conducted in early 2016 found that DASH was not being used to its full potential, but it was also acknowledged that the tool would not always work in real life situations. The purpose of the pilot scheme is to support officers in increasing their knowledge in these specific cases, so they can spot the signs of abuse earlier and help victims sooner.

David Tucker added: 'Police officers and staff do tremendous work every day in safeguarding victims and bringing offenders to justice but our research indicates the risk assessment tools used by most forces could be more effective at helping to identify the most dangerous situations. The pilot will test how effective a different assessment will be in assisting frontline officers to identify patterns of abusive behaviour so that they can take effective action sooner."

The results of the pilot scheme are expected to be released next year.

If you are experiencing domestic violence or coercive control and you aren't sure what options are available to you then K J Smith Solicitors are here to help. Our team of family law specialists will listen and advise you on the best course of action to take in order to keep you and your family safe.

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