Submit a paper with the title : Critical examination of the latest Government responses to coercive control and intimate partner violence in a relationship.

Feb 15, 2024

Submit a paper with the title : Critical examination of the latest Government responses to coercive control and intimate partner violence in a relationship.

Title: Critical examination of the latest Government responses to coercive control and intimate partner violence in a relationship.

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Chapter One: The Law Prior to Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Prior to the establishment of section 76 of the serious crime act 2015, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 had been used in addressing harassment issues. The relevance of this Act in protecting individuals is based on the provision of Section 1, in which an individual is prohibited from pursuing any conduct that would amount to harassment of another. Although the Act does not define coercion and control as the significant foundation of an offence, section 4 recognises putting an individual in fear of violence as a significant foundation of the offence. However, the main concern is the relevance of using the provision in this case in defining coercion and control in the case of intimate partner violence.
Criminal Liability under Harassment Act 1997
Under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the conduct defined in section 1 about harassment could lead to a criminal penalty. However, in the context of civil remedies and liabilities, the case of harassment can be the subject of a claim linked to civil proceedings when defined under the provision of Section 3 of the Act. Furthermore, civil proceedings would be considered a valid option for the victim in cases where there is not enough evidence to amount to criminal prosecution, but the evidence should be enough to get a civil order. Bliss, in this case, further argues that since the criminal liability is considered when the behaviours in question amounted to both harassment and course of contact, in the case where either of these elements is not available or is missing, no criminal liability would be placed on the defendant. The assessment, in this case, put criminal cases to be a matter that must be proven with enough evidence and beyond reasonable doubt that harassment had occurred.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and Stalking
Stalking has been recognised as a significant component of intimate partner violence and may include making unwanted calls or messages by the perpetrators. Stalking has also been described as pursuit-oriented behaviours characterised by intrusive and repeated actions, which include harassing, following and threatening with the intent of causing fear and distress to the victim involved. Although most of the cases of stalking occur post-separation, Bradbury‐Jones and Nikupeteri point out that these behaviours have also been observed in the current relationship when one partner is showing stalking behaviours in an intimate partner relationship. The conduct, in this case, has been regarded as exceedingly frightening for the person subjected to stalking.In the context of this study, however, the most important concern is how the Harassment act 1997 played an important role in preventing stalking, thereby playing a critical part in the case of intimate partner violence in a given relationship.
Another important consideration with regard to stalking is how it relates to coercive control. In essence, through its definition, stalking is characterised by following an individual, spying or watching on such individuals, forcing contact with the victims through different means, including social media. Since such behaviours are meant to curtail the freedom of the victims, the perpetrator would be in a position to control the victims. Therefore, irrespective of how innocents some of the behaviours looks, they are a significant cause of an alarm amounting relating to domestic violence and thus, there is a need to assess the relevance of the available law or the development of legal provisions in addressing these behaviours.
The relevance of Protection from Harassment Act in the case of stalking has provided several insights. Firstly, the law under Protection from Harassment does not provide a strict definition of stalking by outlining the conducts that may amount to stalking to which extent would stalking be regarded as harassment in which the tries to protect. Furthermore, the lack of a coherent description of the stalking behaviours by Protection from Harassment Act has played a significant role in limiting its application when it comes to cases where there is a need to differentiate stalking and harassment. Such insight and the definition thresholds become important in portraying the inadequacy observed in the case of Protection from Harassment in solving stalking in intimate partner violence.
In terms of stalking a case of intimate partner violence or domestic violence, Barratt insists that the focus of the Protection from Harassment Act on harassment provides the foundation on how the law would be important in addressing stalking issues by providing relevant remedies to the victims as well as reducing the incidences. In support of this assertion, a report by the Crown Prosecution Services notes that the amendments through the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which inserted new sections (2A and 4A) in the Protection from Harassment Act relating to Stalking provide the relevance of the law in considering stalking as potential charges. Although the strict legal definition of stalking is lacking, section 2A subsection 3 of the Protection from Harassment provides some examples of the actions or conducts and circumstances that are associated with stalking behaviours. Relying on such a perspective of this provision, the Protection from Harassment Act becomes important in addressing intimate partner violence.
In addressing the issues of domestic abuse such as intimate partner violence, the Protection from Harassment Act, 1997 and especially its section 4 has been criticised for inadequacy. The issues, in this case, involve the difficulties in establishing the circumstances through which cases involving people in a relationship would proceed. Such issues have been observed in R v Curtis where the court failed to conclude that the incidents of a volatile relationship in the course of 9 months could be classified as a course of conduct enough to amount to harassment. Therefore, for this legal provision, the definition of the course of conducts of behaviours amounting to harassment seems as significant in jeopardising justice for the victims of intimate partner violence.
Another issue with regard to section 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 has been defined by the court under R v Widdows. In this case, the court stressed that when charging a person under section 4, the prosecution teams and the court need to understand that the case presented must portray the concepts of harassment considering that harassment is at the core of this Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Therefore, in the case of the intimate partner relationship and other domestic relationship incidents, the prosecution is required to present how the conduct being charged relate to harassment as defined in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
In bringing the relevance of the Harassment Act 1997 to the cases of domestic violence, Section 12 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act, 2004 played an important role in amending the 1997 Act. In this case, the court would be allowed to issue a restraining, especially in the case where a defendant of harassment had been acquitted for an offence related to harassment. The court would be allowed to do so in order to protect the victim from further harassment from that defendant. In essence, subsection 5 of section 12 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 stresses that even if the person has been acquitted of an offence, the restraining order would be necessary so that the victim will be protected from continuous harassment. The provision, in this case, forms an important basis in the case of domestic violence, especially when the court uses power to restrain one partner from causing further harm to the other partner in a relationship.
The discussion throughout this chapter presents important concerns regarding the available laws in addressing the issues of domestic violence. In this case, it was established that the relevance of the law in the incidents of domestic abuse depends on the guidelines presented by Protection from Harassment legislation. For instance, the criteria provided, such as the definition of the course of conduct, have been important considerations in developing charges that would amount to harassment. However, the legislation has been associated with inadequacy, especially in advanced cases of domestic violence, considering that it lacks a threshold in defining some of the conducts. As such, it creates a gap that needs to be further addressed through legislation.

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