How will changes to domestic abuse guidelines affect me?

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New guidelines on intimidation and domestic abuse offences have been proposed and published by the Sentencing Council.

These have been updated to include government recommendations on unpleasant, coercive or antisocial behaviour towards a partner or spouse.

Social media networks have enabled domestic abuse perpetrators to inflict more contemporary and creative methods of humiliation and punishment.

Until now, the law has been slow to reflect the significant and far-reaching distress that such behaviour can cause.

What is classed as intimidation or abuse?

Intimidation offences now include:

  • – Harassment and/or stalking
  • – Misuse of private sexual images (often referred to as revenge porn)
  • – Controlling or coercive behaviour and threats to kill

Domestic abuse guidelines have also been extended to include offences that can take on a more severe context when they occur in a ‘home’ environment.

Any of the following can profoundly affect not only victims of abuse but their families too:

  • – Assault
  • – Sexual offences
  • – Criminal damage

What do I do next?

As well as updating legal recommendations to reflect today’s society, these guidelines also aim to address inconsistencies in sentencing.

The seriousness of such offences has been highlighted as greater than in non-domestic incidents.

This is due to their often prolonged and traumatic nature, for victims and witnesses (particularly children) and any resulting grave outcomes.

Commenting on the newly published guidelines, domestic legal specialist Caroline Aaron said:

‘Of course we welcome the updated recommendations from the Sentencing Council, both as professionals – but more importantly, as people.

‘Everyone – male, female, young and old, should be able to feel safe in their own home, community or online.

‘These new guidelines are a step in the right direction to help people get better access to the protection they need.’

If you feel any of the above issues may affect you or someone you know, you can view the Sentencing Council’s public consultation on their website.

If you’re concerned about inappropriate behaviour in your relationship and would like impartial and confidential legal advice, speak to one of our specialists.

And if you’ve been a victim of intimidation or domestic abuse and are concerned for your safety, please report it to the police immediately on 101.