There’s a base error in this assumption here. Controlling behaviour is now a crime – well, we can have our views on that – but the assumption is that it will be men and men only that are jailed for it.
Men who use coercive control to abuse their partners could face up to 10 years in jail under a government review that reported a six-fold increase in offences in just four years.
The review was told by judges, police and frontline specialists that the current maximum sentence of five years was inadequate for the long-term emotional damage that could be caused by years of a partner’s coercive or controlling behaviour.
This is as with the related domestic violence legislation. Back a bit the shouting was about how men were beating up their female partners and something must be done. No doubt some did and do as well – we con;t call a singlet and or Stella “wifebeater” for nothing. But the legislation had to be a little less misandrist than that. It had to be a person being domestically violent. The actual numbers for arrest and so on are showing that the crime is much more equally distributed across the sexes than the previous campaigning would have us think.
The same is going to be true here. The legislation is and will continue to be controlling behaviour, not men doing controlling behaviour. Some women will get caught up in it. No adult heterosexual is going to try and claim that only men are ever controlling after all.
It’s also a bit wide this legislation. For example, a typical Japanese household structure is that the bloke brings his pay packet home unopened – yes, they do still generally get paid in cash, or at least did until recently. He then gets his pocket money and train ticket back out of the envelope and the wife handles everything else. This would be controlling behaviour in this country. Except there are those that run their lives that way here too. And if this were insisted upon, rather than merely agreed, it wouldn’t be the bloke going to jail, would it?
But look at the assumption being made by those making this law. That it’s blokes and blokes only they’ll be catching. Humans don’t work that way.
The review found the number of controlling or coercive behaviour (CCB) offences rose from 4,246 in 2016/17 to 24,856 in 2019/20. Yet, just six per cent resulted in a prosecution, down from 11 per cent in the same period.
Despite the difficulty in bringing cases to court, the report found strong support for increasing the maximum sentence for those found guilty from five to ten years.
And that’s just stupid. Widen the social definition of the offence and the number reported will rise. But the number that can actually be prosecuted will fall. Because the wider social reporting will lead to marginal cases, cases that don’t meet the legal standard, being reported.
In fact, that the reporting number goes up with the prosecuted one going down means that none of those marginal, either way, cases are being missed.
Although the conviction rate for prosecutions had risen from 38 per cent in 2016 to 60 per cent in 2018, it had fallen back to 52 per cent in 2019.
Quite, cases are being reported as controlling behaviour when they’re not. Thus the prosecution rate falls.