Theresa May, the Home Secretary, recently said that the police are still not taking domestic abuse seriously enough as a crime. In 2015 a new criminal offence of ‘coercive control’ was put on the statute books. Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence, psychological and emotional abuse have as much a detrimental affect as physical violence. The recent story line in The Archers has highlighted the impact that psychological and coercive control can have on victims.
"Police attitudes to domestic abuse have changed for the better in recent years and victims are now referred to specialist officers and provided with appropriate support such as having their address tagged. Situations are risk assessed and other agencies are involved as necessary. There are times when the police are limited in what they can do or the victim does not wish to involve them and this is when the Family Court can help,"Head of Family Team Andy Stynes explains.
Protection can be provided by way of injunction proceedings. There are two types of injunctions available under the the main family law statute – the Family Law Act 1996. These are non-molestation orders and occupation orders. A non-molestation order stipulates that the perpetrator must not use or threaten violence against, intimidate, harass or pester a victim and must not allow any third party to do so. Non-molestation orders can also cover postings on social media sites. Anyone found to be in breach of an injunction can be sent to prison – maximum sentence is five years. An occupation order will exclude the perpetrator from the family home. Any breach of this can also result in a custodial sentence.
Our Family Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Andy or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.