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Police 'are letting down victims of domestic abuse'.

Byline: Thomas Deacon Reporter thomas.deacon@mediawales.co.uk

ALMOST half of Welsh police officers have not been trained to implement a new law making coercive and controlling behaviour a crime, a freedom of information request shows.

The figures, obtained by Plaid Cymru, show that 43% of police officers in Wales' four police forces have not been given training since a new law came into force, making coercive and controlling behaviour a form of domestic abuse.

South Wales Police has the lowest proportion, with 39% of police officers having been trained since the law came into force in December 2015.

Plaid Cymru's justice and home affairs spokesperson Liz Saville Roberts said domestic abuse victims are being "let down".

Ms Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said: "All police officers, including middle managers, need to be trained to ensure they are aware of the new legislation and understand the nature of the new offence of coercive or controlling behaviour.

"Ensuring first responders are adequately trained is a critical part of ensuring culture change within the police and ultimately across society.

"Devolving policing - mirroring the situation in the other devolved countries - would provide an immediate boost of PS25 million per year to the Welsh police forces, and allow the Welsh Government to provide mandatory training."

North Wales Police had the highest figure, having trained, or planned to train, 76% of its police officers.

Dyfed Powys Police has trained 70% and Gwent Police 68%.

The figures also found that 13% of reported cases of coercive or controlling behaviour lead to a charge, with 58% of cases dropped.

There have been 565 alleged incidents of coercive or controlling behaviour since the law came into force in December 2015, with the vast majority being reported by women in relationships.

Examples of coercive and controlling behaviour include humiliation and verbal abuse, restricting victims' movement, preventing victims from seeing friends, stopping them from having hobbies, controlling their finances or where they are allowed to go.

A Bill was due to be enacted in March 2014 to make coercive and controlling behaviour a crime, following a Private Members' Bill from Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd.

The Bill was delayed to December 2015 at the request of Plaid Cymru so police officers could be trained.

The Freedom of Information request revealed that no police officers were trained between March 2014 and December 2015.

All four police forces were approached for comment.

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Plaid MP Liz Saville Roberts

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 29, 2018
Words:408
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