The victim-offender dynamic in domestic abuse and coercive control:  An analysis of police data

Les Humphreys1
1Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom

Understanding the victim-offender dynamic in domestic abuse (DA) has important implications for policing and intervention.  Questions in this field abound.  Broadly this presentation will outline findings from an investigation into the frequency and repetition of offending and victimisation of DA.  Analysis was carried out on data obtained from Merseyside constabulary’s information systems – Merseyside is an area in the North West of England with a population of about 1.5 million people.  The sample analysed comprised information on all incidents that were crimed by Merseyside police between January 2016 and June 2017 (n=18,978).  In doing so a distinction is made between four groups 1) victims; 2) victim-offenders (individuals who, in terms of their contact with the police, are primarily victims, but who also ’offend’; 3) offenders; 4)  offender-victims (individuals who, in terms of their contact with the police, are primarily offenders, but who also ’victimised’.  Comparisons of the differences in the nature and prevalence of these groups will be made between a) individuals involved in cases charged with the new offence of coercive control and b) those charged with other forms of domestic abuse.  Findings will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of individuals involved in DA that comes to the attention of the police particularly when compared to similar work carried out by Muftić et. al. (2015).  Specifically, these findings make three important contributions – they help understand how the police interpret the law of coercive control; they help understand how best to respond to coercive control specifically and domestic abuse more generally; and they make a vital contribution to measuring police demand associated with DA.


Dr Les Humphreys is a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University specialising in quantitative methods. His research focusses on criminal justice research, criminal sentencing and domestic abuse.


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