Publication of the week: Professor Susan Edwards

14 November 2016

Susan S.M. Edwards, “Coercion and compulsion – re-imagining crimes and defences”, Criminal Law Review Crim L.R. 2016, 12, 876-899.

The language of coercion and compulsion entered the criminal law in 2015, with a new offence of “controlling and coercive behaviour” (a concept which will be familiar to listeners of The Archers) and a new defence of “compulsion”. Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (SCA), introduces the offence of “controlling and coercive behaviour” in an intimate or family relationship recognising the context, circumstances and tactics of domestic violence. Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA), recognises the element of “compulsion” in the commission of a criminal offence and provides a duress like defence for those, who caught in trafficking and slavery, commit criminal offences. In both instances the offence and defence will be very limited, “coercion” because matters of proof and an overly complex provision will make implementation difficult, and “compulsion” because of an attitude towards involuntarism, an overly narrow understanding of reasonable alternatives and a statutory limitation placed on the offences to which the defence can apply. Training and education are required for all statutory agencies and the judges and legal representatives with regard to the role of “coercion” in an intimate or family relationship, and with regard to the part played by a range of circumstances including impoverishment, destitution and juju witchcraft that makes trafficked victims so susceptible to slavery and “compulsion” to commit crimes.

The full text of the article is available on University computers via Westlaw.

Professor Susan Edwards is a researcher and campaigner and a barrister (Door Tenant, 1 Grays Inn Square, London). She is an expert witness and member of the Expert Witness Institute.  She is Dean of Law at Buckingham.