Wigan victims urged to use apps to nail domestic abusers

Domestic violence increases over the summer holidays
Domestic violence increases over the summer holidays

Wigan victims of domestic violence are urged to record incidents of abuse, as new figures suggest cases continue to fail due to lack of evidence.

In 2015, “coercive control” became a new offence under the Serious Crime Act. The term spans a range of actions intended to intimidate, restrict and control a partner’s behaviour.

Figures obtained by Ridley & Hall Solicitors under Freedom of Information show that Greater Manchester Police recorded 302 arrests for “controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship” in 2018.

In that period, just 61 charges were made for that offence while an outcome of “no further action” was recorded 181 times.

Family lawyer and domestic violence campaigner Emma Pearmaine says gathering enough evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to bring a charge against violent spouses is exceptionally difficult, but that mobile phone apps could help.

She said: “Coercive control is a subtle pattern of behaviours which are very hard for both victims and the police to prove. Although thousands of arrests are made for domestic violence and coercive control each year, cases are often dropped because of insufficient evidence.

“We know that incidents of domestic abuse and violence go up over holiday periods, so I am urging those who already feel threatened to find a way of making a record of any and all incidents of abuse over the summer.”

There are currently several apps available for victims that help with everything from simple note-keeping to storing searchable records such as documents, pictures and videos.

Many apps are disguised as something else, so that an abuser would not identify it on a victim’s phone screen, if they decided to check.

Some domestic violence apps even allow victims and their lawyers the option of downloading the stored records in court-ready chronology. Users can link their records to a professional, who can monitor events in real time and offer support and advice in real time.

Ms Pearmaine added: “By keeping a record of domestic abuse, the Police and CPS will be able to make a case to charge and prosecute the perpetrator.”