The mum of a Lancashire nurse murdered by her boyfriend has welcomed a new law banning emotional domestic abuse.
Penny Clough said the new criminal offence of coercive and controlling behaviour – which comes into force this week – is ‘fantastic’ and would help bring abusers to justice.
Her 26-year-old daughter Jane, who grew up in the Clayton Brook area of Chorley and went to school in Bamber Bridge, was stabbed to death outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital by her former partner Jonathan Vass, from Preston, in 2010.
The ambulance worker launched his frenzied attack while on bail for her rape.
“It’s a really good move to recognise there is more to domestic abuse than physical and sexual violence,” Penny said.
“We said this with Vass - it’s all part of the emotional abuse and the isolation of victims. It’s horrific.”
It’s a really good move to recognise there is more to domestic abuse than physical and sexual violence
The new offence, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and or a fine, means it is now illegal for a partner or family member – or even former partners still living together – to ‘repeatedly or continuously engage in behaviour towards another person that is controlling or coercive that knowingly has a serious effect on them’.
This includes stopping them seeing their friends or family, demanding to check their social media accounts and mobile phones or using spyware, controlling their finances, repeatedly putting them down – by calling them worthless for example – or making them quit work.
But Penny warned: “It’s wonderful this new law is coming in but we need to use it. If it’s not being used to the full extent, it’s just a piece of paper with words on it.
“The police are taking domestic abuse seriously and the CPS is getting on board, but the part of the system letting people down is the judiciary, which is letting people off with slaps on the wrist.
“I will be utterly stunned if they jail someone for five years. I will applaud it but I think it’ll be a case of, ‘naughty man, don’t do it again’, and then they’re back out before you know it.”
The government’s minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, Karen Bradley, said: “No-one should ever suffer in silence or live in fear of stalking, violence or abuse. Our new domestic abuse offence will protect victims who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of abuse that can lead to total control of their lives by the perpetrator.
“We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated.”
The government recently announced it is giving £3.85m for a new campaign aimed at tackling abuse within teenage relationships, which will launch in the new year.