Commissioner welcomes longer sentences for controlling abusers

Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend has welcomed Government plans to increase prison sentences for coercive and controlling abusers who murder.

Read Lisa’s statement below:

It is welcome news that those with a history of controlling or coercive behaviour who go on to commit murder will receive more significant sentences.

Around one in four homicides in England and Wales are committed by a current or former partner or relative, according to Ministry of Justice data, and Clare Wade KC – who carried out this crucial review into domestic homicide sentencing – found that more than half of the murder cases she reviewed included controlling or coercive behaviour.

Domestic abuse is rarely a single incident, but rather a long-standing pattern that very often includes this type of criminal behaviour.

However, the Government has not yet chosen to enshrine in law a mitigating factor in cases when victims kill their abusers, and I fear this could make matters worse for women who kill after suffering violent relationships.

If a female victim of abuse uses a weapon to kill a partner, she can be jailed for longer than men who use strength alone to murder. I would like to see that guideline for such cases removed in the future.

Dominic Raab says he is sympathetic to this argument and I hope that we will soon see that change in legislation.

To anyone in Surrey who is a victim of controlling or coercive behaviour, I’d urge you to speak to Surrey Police. Our officers will always take any complaint of this nature with the utmost seriousness.