Dramatic rise of coercive control within Yorkshire families reported to police


Reports of coercive control within families across Yorkshire has risen dramatically, latest figures show.

Collectively, police forces across Yorkshire have reported a 105 per cent increase of coercive control reports in just one year.

Figures show there were 962 arrests made by police in Humberside, West and South Yorkshire during 2018. Figures for North Yorkshire were not available. This number is compared to 467 arrests the previous year – a rise of 105 per cent.

The coercive control law, which was introduced in 2015 and carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, was brought in to include such behaviours which do not amount to physical violence, but still cause someone fear.

Abuse can include a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimidation, or behaviour such as stopping a partner socialising, controlling their social media accounts, surveillance through apps or dictating what they wear.

Police in West Yorkshire arrested 511 people in 2018 for the same offence, compared to 299 the previous year, and 178 in 2016.

Of the 511 arrests, 47 people were charged with the offence.

Graham O’Shea, from Halifax, was the first West Yorkshire man to be jailed for controlling and coercive behaviour. He was sentenced to four years in prison at Bradford Crown Court in November 2016.

His victim told how O’Shea took her bank cards, giving her an allowance of £10 per week and also refused to let her wash herself or let her visit her family.

He instructed the woman to learn the game of chess, before selecting a piece and telling her that if she was the last one left on the board she would be leaving in a black box.

Police are encouraging victims of domestic abuse to come forward.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Domestic abuse is an offence which can have severe emotional and physical effects on its victims.

“We want those suffering or at risk of suffering to know that safeguarding professionals are better equipped than ever to provide help, advice, support and that officers will make every effort to prosecute those responsible.

“We have specially trained officers working across the force in our specialist safeguarding units who take all reports seriously, deal with them sensitively and do everything possible to safeguard those who are vulnerable.”