A police boss has urged more victims of domestic abuse to come forward after the introduction of a new law.
According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick, the legislation targets domestic abusers who use controlling behaviour on their victims.
The offence introduces a maximum five-year jail term and fine for controlling or coercive behaviour.
It relates to an intimate or family relationship, and could include humiliation or intimidation, regulating behaviour, isolating people and depriving them of the means to escape such as through access to money.
Mr Roddick said “Controlling and coercive behaviour is despicable crime which can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on the lives of victims.
“It is therefore good news that we now have a new weapon to arrest and punish the perpetrators.
“The legislation recognises that the psychological and emotional impacts of abuse can be just as damaging to individuals’ and families’ lives as physical abuse. We hope that the introduction of this law will give more victims the confidence to come forward
“We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to us and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated.
The types of behaviour associated with coercion and control include monitoring someone’s time, checking their phone or social media accounts, preventing them from seeing people or having a job, controlling their finances, putting them down, threatening them or someone they love, damaging their things and telling them what to wear.
Last year Mr Roddick established a new Victim Help Centre and funded Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors.
The commissioner revealed the success of the new Victim Help Centre has “exceeded all expectations” with thousands getting in touch asking for help.
The one-stop-shop for victims covers the whole of North Wales and is based at divisional police HQ in St Asaph.
Each victim receives a response specifically tailored to their situation.
Mr Roddick added:”Tackling domestic abuse is a key objective in my Crime and Police Plan which sets a framework for the work of North Wales Police.
“Domestic abuse is a crime which crosses, age, financial and diversity gaps and is an issue which can and does affect not just those who are being directly subjected to abuse, but also those who see and hear is going on.
“Domestic abuse is simply not acceptable and I would urge anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse to seek help. Domestic abuse is not a way of life – it is a crime.
“I want victims to realise that North Wales Police attaches importance to this crime and we will dedicate resources to it to ensure that the victim’s journey from making a complaint to the police, through the court system and thereafter is made as comfortable and safe as is possible because all the public have a real interest in the complaint being made and being dealt with appropriately.
“The message is clear. Come forward and you will be taken seriously and treated sensitively”.