Elfyn Llwyd, the Plaid Cymru MP, whose 10-minute rule bill in February 2014 first proposed the new offence, said he was frustrated that there had been such a poor take-up of training by police forces across the country, which had been reflected in the low number of prosecutions.
The new offence referred to is, of course, the addition of ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ to domestic abuse.
A recent freedom of information request by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism revealed that just 532 charges have been brought under the new laws in the 29 police force areas that responded to the request. Six police forces have brought five charges or fewer since the new offences were brought into force on 29 December 2015.
Well, congratulations on not using ‘or less’!
But maybe it’s because there’s no complaints of this behaviour out there? Are the police to be blamed for that?
Latest official figures show that only eight out of 43 police forces across England and Wales have rolled out a new national training programme and this lack of training is reflected in the low number of prosecutions involving the new offences.
Ah, of course. Training solves everything! It must be out there, if we can just skill the police up to recognise it, surely?
This is against a backdrop in which it is officially estimated that 1.2 million women and 713,000 men have suffered some form of domestic violence in the past year. A recent University of Gloucestershire report found that controlling behaviour was an element in 92% of 358 domestic murders they had studied.
Hmmm. Maybe it’s me, but aren’t the murders a bit more pressing…?