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Rising coercive control now fifth most common form of domestic crime

Corcive control can include a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Corcive control can include a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Police have investigated more than 1,000 reports of coercive control in Suffolk since the form of domestic abuse was written into law four years ago.

Incidents have risen 250% from 114 in 2016 to 404 in 2019, according to domestic crime statistics for the last decade.

Total domestic crime rose by more than half during the same period, from 4,885 to 7,663, with females accounting for more than three quarters of victims in 2019.

Freedom of Information data showed that coercive control was the fifth most common form of domestic crime last year - behind malicious communications (424), harassment (750), ABH (1,422) and common assault (2,415).

The constabulary's head of safeguarding said perpetrators can be "subtle, devious and manipulative".

The offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship came into force on December 29, 2015.

Offences are defined as "act or a pattern of acts used to harm, punish or frighten" and a "range of acts designed to make a person subordinate or dependent".

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Behaviour can include isolating a victim from support, exploiting their resources, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the increase was in line with national trends and down to several factors, including investment in additional training to better identify coercion and control.

He said partners had improved understanding and increased the number of reports of offences, while changes in crime recording expectations now required police to record control and coercion as an offence in addition to others committed by the perpetrators.

"We continue to work with specialist support agencies which can help individuals affected by such abuse," he added.

"This support includes referrals to independent domestic violence advisors and the constabulary domestic abuse teams, who can signpost appropriately for additional support.

"Perpetrators of coercive control can be very subtle, devious and manipulative.

"The level and type of coercion may change and increase over time. Often, the victim doesn't realise they are being abused.

"If this is happening to you, it is important to remember that it is not your fault, and you need help and support to keep safe."

If you feel in immediate danger as a result of domestic abuse, dial 999 straight away and, if possible, wait in a safe place for the police to arrive.

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