The Serious Crime Act received royal assent on the 3rd March 2015. The guidance from the Home Office is welcome in situations where the law is slightly vague. It provides information on:
1. identifying domestic violence, domestic abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour
2. circumstances in which the new offence might apply
3. the types of evidence for the offence
4. the defence.
The Home Office has published statutory guidance concerning controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship under the Serious Crime Act 2015. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years' imprisonment, a fine or both.The offence is constituted by behaviour on the part of the perpetrator which takes place "repeatedly or continuously". The victim and alleged perpetrator must be "personally connected" at the time the behaviour takes place. The behaviour must have had a "serious effect" on the victim, meaning that it has caused the victim to fear violence will be used against them on "at least two occasions", or it has had a "substantial adverse effect on the victims' day to day activities". The alleged perpetrator must have known or "ought to have known" that their behaviour would have a serious effect on the victim.