Coercive control offence for NI

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A Westminster committee has recommended that new English domestic abuse legislation should apply to NI in the absence of devolution.

The bill will create a new definition of domestic abuse, covering controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour, violence or abuse of those aged 16 or over.

Last year, the PSNI dealt with more than 31,000 incidents of domestic violence.

The committee noted that NI does not have a statutory definition of domestic abuse nor a specific offence regarding coercive and controlling behaviour.

The committee argued that the draft bill should be amended to include a ‘sunset clause’, which would mean the application of the law to NI would lapse after the restoration of an Assembly.

Kelly Andrews of Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid told BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme that “domestic violence victims need protection, so whatever way that is brought in is neither here nor there, so long as those protections are in place”.

In February a woman who killed her husband by beating him on the head with a hammer roughly 20 times had her murder conviction reduced to manslaughter. Sally Challen, 65, was found guilty of murdering 61-year-old Richard in Surrey and jailed for life in 2011.

Mr Justice Edis said the killing came after “years of controlling, isolating and humiliating conduct” by him.