Coercive and controlling behaviour: Dominant discourse, police response and the victim-survivor experience.

TATTON, Sarah Elizabeth (2023). Coercive and controlling behaviour: Dominant discourse, police response and the victim-survivor experience. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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For centuries in the UK, intimate partner abuse (IPV) has been accepted as a ‘normal’ part of intimate relationships. Since the 1970s, feminist grassroots organisations and academic research have amplified victim-survivor experiences and challenged historical acceptance of IPV, prompting legislative changes and redefining criminal justice response. In England and Wales, Section 76 of Serious Crime Act (2015) and the Domestic Abuse Act (2021) describe ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’ (CCB), a pattern of abusive tactics which were previously unacknowledged as constituting risk of serious harm. Historically, police were reluctant to intervene in IPV, yet officers have significant potential not only for initiating criminal justice outcomes but for either reproducing or challenging dominant narratives. This qualitative study examines contemporary police response to IPV and CCB in England. Foucault’s (1977) genealogical analysis is applied to IPV/CCB, ‘diagnosing the present’ by exposing the inherited ‘dominant’ and emerging ‘counter’ discourses operating in the cultural context. Data from victim-survivor and police officer interviews and observations of police in CCB training are analysed using Fairclough’s (2013) critical discourse analysis and a feminist lens. Findings highlight the narratives used by officers in responding to IPV/CCB. Although CCB vocabulary is salient in the police environment, historically dominant narratives continue to underpin police interactions. Officers who engage with the victim-survivor experience - in their response work, through lived-experience, or engagement with survivor-led media coverage - demonstrate the most nuanced understanding of CCB. Key recommendations include increasing the value of IPV/CCB in the police environment by challenging dominant narratives of couple conflict, increasing police awareness of risk and harms associated with patterns of CCB and positioning response officers as conscious agents of social change with the potential to change victim-survivors’ lives beyond criminal justice outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Albertson, Katherine [0000-0001-7708-1775] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Paterson, Craig [0000-0002-7653-0206] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Black, Alexandra [0000-0002-5910-0108] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Katherine Albertson / Supervisors: Dr. Craig Paterson and Dr. Alex Black
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2024 15:44
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2024 02:02

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