Coercive control and emotional blackmail would become offences under a proposed bill aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.
Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP, will present a ‘10-minute rule’ bill in the House of Commons which, if passed, would criminalise all aspects of domestic violence.
In March 2013 a cross-government definition of domestic violence was adopted to encompass psychological, physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, but at present not all of these behaviours are criminal offences.
Llywd said the bill would give statutory underpinning to the government’s definition of domestic violence, offering victims greater protection and place duties on the police to investigate.
‘Domestic violence is pervasive in our society,’ he said. ‘Every minute, police across the country will receive a domestic violence-related call.’
He said that although the incidents are not trivial, according to figures from Women’s Aid, only 6.5% of reported domestic violence incidents result in a conviction.
Many domestic violence cases that are passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service result in no action being taken, he said. Llwyd said the flaws in the current system create substantial costs to victims and to society as a whole.
At present, the criminal justice system is too focused on the physical evidence of violent crimes, he said. ‘Coercive control and emotional blackmail, on the other hand, do not leave scars or bruises – but they are every bit as debilitating.’