Victims urged to use app to record domestic abuse during heated summer holidays

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Victims of domestic violence are urged to record incidents of abuse over the testy summer holiday period, as new figures suggest cases continue to fail due to lack of evidence.

On 31 December 2015, coercive control became a new offence under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. The term ‘coercive control’ spans a broad range of actions that are intended to intimidate, restrict and control a partner’s behaviour.

Figures obtained from the Police by Ridley & Hall Solicitors under Freedom of Information show that Metropolitan Police Service recorded 407 arrests for ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’ between 1 January and 31 December 2018. In that same period, 55 charges were made for that same offence. An outcome of ‘No further action’ was recorded 222 times*.

Family lawyer and domestic violence campaigner, Emma Pearmaine says gathering enough evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring a charge against violent spouses is exceptionally difficult, but that mobile phone apps could help.

She comments: “Coercive control is a subtle pattern of behaviours which are very hard for both victims and the Police to prove. Although thousands of arrests are made for domestic violence and coercive control each year, cases are often dropped because of insufficient evidence.

“We know that incidents of domestic abuse and violence go up over holiday periods, so I am urging those who already feel threatened to find a way of making a record of any and all incidents of abuse over the summer.”

There are currently several apps available for victims of domestic violence that help with everything from simple note-keeping to storing searchable records such as documents, pictures and videos. Many apps are disguised as something else, so that an abuser would not identify it on a victim’s phone screen, if they decided to check.

Some domestic violence apps even allow victims and their lawyers the option of downloading the stored records in court-ready chronology. Users can link their records to a professional, who can monitor events in real time and offer support and advice in real time.

Emma adds: “By keeping a record of domestic abuse, the Police and Crown Prosecution Service will be able to make a case to charge and prosecute the perpetrator. Family lawyers will be able to use the evidence to secure orders necessary to protect and meet the practical needs of the victim and any children of the family, which include non-molestation orders, financial orders and child arrangements orders.”

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