Prosecuting Coercive Control: Reforming Storytelling in the Courtroom

Vanessa Bettinson, Jeremy Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The criminalisation of coercive control is a welcome development in ending violence against women. It has created an offence aimed at tackling the abuse of power and control within relationships. Despite this, however, there are indications that there is a high attrition rate in bringing prosecutions, notwithstanding the recognition by prosecuting authorities of the need to bring “evidence-led” prosecutions. In this paper we review the ways in which having an offence which is proved via a narrative account of a personal relationship can run into difficulties when faced with rules of evidence which have evolved in a justice system more used to dealing with incident-based offences. Although in many cases judicial discretion allows flexibility to overcome these problems, we argue that the process would be made easier by explicit recognition of the approach to be taken in the rules of evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1126
JournalCriminal Law Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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