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‘A genuine one usually sticks out a mile’: policing coercive control in England and Wales

Myhill, Andy; Johnson, Kelly; McNeill, Abigail; Critchfield, Emily; Westmarland, Nicole


Andy Myhill

Abigail McNeill

Emily Critchfield


In 2015, legislation was enacted in England and Wales to criminalise coercive control. While there has been considerable debate on the merits of the law, there has been little empirical study of its use in practice. This paper presents findings from a focused ethnography conducted in two police forces in England. Field observations with first response officers and specialist investigators reveal structural and social-cultural contexts that mitigate against successful implementation of the law. Specifically, we identify officer knowledge and attitudes, resourcing and the framing of the legislation itself as impeding its wider use. While we did not observe the unintended consequences feared by some observers, we conclude that systemic change is required if the theoretical benefits of the legislation are to be fully realised.


Myhill, A., Johnson, K., McNeill, A., Critchfield, E., & Westmarland, N. (2022). ‘A genuine one usually sticks out a mile’: policing coercive control in England and Wales. Policing and Society, 33(4), 398-413.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 18, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Journal Policing and Society
Print ISSN 1043-9463
Electronic ISSN 1477-2728
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 4
Pages 398-413
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