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Longer sentences proposed for domestic and coercive abuse 

By Ruth Coneron

Published In: Child Care

Care lawyers at Switalskis are backing a proposed plan to change the law to better recognise the ways in which perpetrators of domestic abuse coerce and control their partners.

court of appeal building

The government recently announced that it will launch a public consultation to determine whether longer jail sentences should be applied to murder cases with a history of coercive or controlling behaviour. Proposals would also require that judges consider these behaviours as aggravating factors when sentencing murderers with a history of using extreme violence or coercive behaviour towards their victim.

Ruth Coneron, director, and solicitor advocate in Switalskis' Care department, says the public consultation, driven by campaigners and recommendations made by barrister Clare Wade, “has been a long time coming” yet “more still needs to be done”. 

Ruth says, “We welcome changes in the law which recognise the ways in which perpetrators of domestic abuse use subtle and yet incredibly emotionally harmful ways to coerce and control their partners. The family courts are beginning to acknowledge that these behaviours often exist in relationships where there is a power imbalance but can be difficult to evidence. This is often due to the way the perpetrator uses means to belittle and degrade their victim, causing them to feel worthless, vulnerable, and powerless to stand up to the perpetrator.

“We represent survivors and the families of domestic abuse and coercive behaviour and see how devastating and damaging this abuse is to them. Currently, sentencing does not reflect that domestic murders are often part of wider patterns of domestic abuse. This proposal is a step forward but more still needs to be done. We eagerly await the full response from the government in the summer when we will receive more clarity of when changes will come into force.”

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Ruth has 25 years’ experience.  She is a Director at Switalskis and is Head of our Child Care law team.

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