Police probe hundreds of coercive control reports across Cleveland Police area

Police in Cleveland investigated hundreds of allegations of coercive control in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

December marked the sixth anniversary of landmark legislation introduced to make coercive or controlling behaviour a criminal offence – but only a "small minority of survivors" will see justice done, according to a support charity.

Office for National Statistics data shows Cleveland Police logged 321 allegations of coercive or controlling behaviour during 2020-21 – up from 250 the year before.

But other figures show that, of the 280 cases closed by the force, 91% were abandoned due to difficulties gathering evidence and just 18 ended with a suspect being charged or summonsed to court.

Action call over coercive control crimes

Coercive control is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Abusers can be jailed for subjecting a partner or family member to controlling behaviour such as isolating them, exploiting them financially, depriving them of basic needs, humiliating, frightening or threatening them.

Isabelle Younane, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Women's Aid, called for consistency between forces.

She added: “It is a matter of urgency for the Government to invest in multi-agency and partnership working across services."

Nationally during the first year of the pandemic, 34,000 allegations were reported to police – third up from around 25,000 in 2019-20 – with more than nine in 10 investigations dropped due to evidential difficulties.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government is acting to tackle the "particularly insidious" form of domestic abuse and will publish its Domestic Abuse Strategy this year.