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New Guidelines for Domestic Abuse

The Sentencing Guidelines Council has now published new guidelines which come into force in May 2018 for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

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More than just physical violence

In a nutshell, the underlying message is that offenders are now more likely to receive a prison sentence even where there is no physical harm, as severe emotional or psychological abuse will also be considered.

Additionally, violence and threats occurring outside of the relationship will be treated more seriously, and pleas for clemency by the victim will generally be disregarded as there is a risk they may have been induced by threats or volunteered through fear.

What does it include? 

Covered within the new guidelines are so called ‘honour’ killings, female genital mutilation and forced marriage;

  • Controlling behaviour - a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capabilities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and/or regulating their everyday behaviour, and;

  • Coercive behaviour - an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation (whether public or private) and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the victim, which may include - person to person contact, or, other methods, including but not limited to, telephone calls, text, email, social networking sites or use of GPS tracking devices.

Although the guideline changes are expected to lead to an increase in sentence severity, Judges and Magistrates will still be expected to consider the most appropriate sentence on a case by case basis.

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