Controlling and coercive behaviour was criminalised in the UK under the Serious Crime Act 2015. Despite such progressive changes, non-physical abuse continues to be minimised by criminal justice professionals, particularly police officers. In addition, the changes to the Serious Crime Act 2015 have been utilised on very few occasions since it was first introduced . However, there is limited existing research that examines the policing of coercive control, demonstrating a clear gap in the literature, which this project aims to address.
Dr Charlotte Barlow, the PI, is currently working on an N8 funded project in this area, using existing police data to explore police responses to coercive control. The current project (awarded £9,976) will expand on this knowledge by engaging in empirical work to explore police attitudes towards, understanding of and responses to coercive control. The small grant will enable the following research:
• Online survey, measuring police officer’s attitudes towards and understanding of coercive control.
• Focus groups with police officers to provide a more in-depth insight of officer’s knowledge of and attitudes towards coercive control, in particular focusing on the issues of working with this legislation in practice.
• Analysis of police officer body worn camera footage of coercive control responses. This stage enables a more practice-based understanding of police responses.
• Continued development and expansion of the coercive control ‘learning tool’ informed by current and N8 project findings. The target audience for this will be UK based police forces.
The project will start in March 2018.