A comparative evaluation of offences: Criminalising abusive behaviour in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Tasmania

Vanessa Bettinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter analyses the new offences introduced in England and Wales in 2015, Scotland in 2018, Ireland in 2018 and the less recent offences in Tasmania in 2004 addressing the use of coercive control in domestic relationships. Each legislature has chosen different approaches to a shared problem and, as other jurisdictions are considering whether or how to criminalise non-physical abuse at this time, it is timely to consider which model has the greatest potential to achieve the stated objectives of these offences. I argue that the Scottish model is most promising and that rollout to other nations should be a serious consideration. This is based on Scotland having developed an offence that aligns as far as could be expected with its existing policy approaches to domestic abuse. The legislation has a focus on current or ex-partners, no requirement to show that the victim actually suffered harm, an ability to reflect the wide range of behaviours and impact that abusive behaviour can cause, and a sentencing range that adequately reflects the broad range of offending covered by these offences. In comparison, other models have shortcomings, such as greater evidential barriers for prosecution, limitation periods or a failure to take into account the different levels of severity of consequences caused by the prohibited behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminalising Coercive Control
Subtitle of host publicationFamily Violence and the Criminal Law
EditorsMarilyn McMahon, Paul McGorrey
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811506536
ISBN (Print)9789811506529
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Cite this