Controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship was introduced as offence by section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. It was part of the government’s redefinition of domestic violence in March 2013, which for the first time ruled “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour” was an offence.

Introduced as part of a wide attempt to modernise and tighten laws across a spectrum of criminality, press attention at the time mainly focused on new offences around organised crime, prisons and child sexual abuse. Controlling and coercive behaviour, on the other hand, was largely overlooked.

The offence represented a major change to the law. It was the firs...

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