Lancaster University develops new learning tool to help ‘make sense’ of coercive control law

Lancaster University, in partnership with Merseyside Police and Women’s Aid, have developed a learning tool to help equip police officers with the skills to provide an improved service for victims of the complex new coercive control law.

The tool could be used as a face-to-face training aid or adapted as an online resource. It is currently being piloted by Merseyside Police and will also be made available to other interested police forces and appropriate agencies.

It is based on the findings of a research project led by Dr Charlotte Barlow (Lancaster University), Professor Sandra Walklate (University of Liverpool) and Dr Kelly Johnson (Lancaster University), as part of the N8 Policing Research Partnership (N8PRP). The tool provides training and guidance to help officers at all ranks to understand, respond to, investigate and evidence coercive control

It is the first evidence-based research to look in detail at the implementation of the legislation on coercive control.

The research, funded by the N8PRP, reveals that, of the 19,000 domestic-abuse related crimes recorded by Merseyside Police over 18 months, only 156 were listed under new coercive control offences.

Project leader Dr Barlow, from Lancaster University Law School, said: “The research paints a complex picture of how the new coercive control offence is playing out in police practice.”

The research also shows:

  • 95% of victims were women and perpetrators were much more likely to be men, highlighting the gendered nature of this offence
  • Victims rarely contacted the police specifically to report coercive control. The crime of coercive control often became apparent as a result of other offences (such as assault or criminal damage) being reported to the police.
  • Compared to other cases of domestic abuse-related crimes, emergency and other calls for help with coercive control cases were given a lower priority grading by call handlers.
  • Coercive control cases were also less likely to lead to an arrest or be solved in comparison to other forms of domestic abuse (such as ABH)

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The full report ‘Policing Responses to Coercive Control’ can be found here


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