Domestic abuse victims who do not live with their abuser will receive better protection against threats and intimidation, the Government has announced.
The controlling or coercive behaviour offence has been extended to cover victims who do not live with the family member or ex-partner abusing them.
Controlling or coercive behaviour was introduced as a criminal offence in the Serious Crime Act 2015 and can include economic, emotional or psychological abuse and threats alongside physical or sexual violence.
Abuse can continue after victims separate with an abusive partner, or get worse as the perpetrator wants to keep control over their victim, the Government says.
New guidance, put together with help from charities, police and legal experts, and domestic abuse victims, will help identify offences and help police and other agencies understand how to gather evidence.
The guidance will also provide clearer advice to support victims and advice on how to safely identify and respond to threats, intimidation, manipulation and other forms of controlling or coercive behaviour.
The Government hopes the new measures will help increase the number of successful prosecutions for the crime.
Safeguarding minister Sarah Dines said: “Controlling or coercive behaviour is an abhorrent crime that I am determined to tackle.
“Victims’ safety is paramount, and this updated guidance will offer wider protection to victims and will support the police to bring more perpetrators to justice.”
“The psychological trauma of being in an abusive relationship can make victims feel very isolated.
“This new guidance will help those people to know just what coercive or controlling behaviour is and to come forward and report it.”
Shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips said: “While this guidance is welcome, there is a real question of why it took the Conservatives so long.”
She added: “We have seen how police forces struggle to respond to serious threats of imminent violence, so the idea that forces are equipped to handle more complex cases is for the birds.”