A Comparative Evaluation of Offences: Criminalising Abusive Behaviour in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Tasmania
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.
Citation : Bettinson, V. (2020) A Comparative Evaluation of Offences: Criminalising Abusive Behaviour in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Tasmania. In: M. McMahon and P. McGorrery, ‘Criminalising Coercive Control’ Springer International.
Research Institute : Institute for Evidence-Based Law Reform (IELR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- Department of Law