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calendar icon04 Sep 2023

Victims of economic abuse ‘aren’t getting the justice they deserve’

Survivors of economic abuse aren't getting the criminal or financial justice they deserve, according to a new report.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse occurs when someone controls a person’s money and finances. One in six women in the UK has experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner.

What the new research has found

Research by the charity Surviving Economic Abuse has found, although economic abuse is no longer hidden, it’s not being dealt with effectively.

Every 20 minutes, a victim of economic abuse makes a report to the police but perpetrators are not being held to account, according to the report.

The charity analysed 810 successfully prosecuted offences of controlling or coercive behaviour. In 64% of such cases reported in the press, reference was made to economic abuse.

But rather than grouping all abuse within a single charge of coercive control, police are bringing multiple charges to court, focusing the bulk of their efforts on investigating physical abuse.

According to the report, this has resulted in:

  • economic abuse being overlooked by police when building a case
  • plea bargaining
  • more lenient sentences
  • victims not getting the justice they deserve

Other findings

  • Controlling or coercive behaviour was prosecuted as a standalone offence in only a third of cases.
  • The average prison sentence for controlling or coercive behaviour offences featuring economic abuse is under two years – less than half the maximum possible sentence.
  • The perpetrators in just 2% of economic abuse cases were ordered to pay compensation to the victim.

Call for action

The charity has called for the new Victims and Prisoners Bill to:

  • make police training on controlling or coercive behaviour and economic abuse mandatory, so that officers are better able to spot the crime and gather evidence
  • boost support for victims
  • increase court-awarded compensation for victims
  • introduce a means for victims to re-establish their credit rating after economic abuse

If you need help

Economic abuse often goes hand in hand with other forms of abuse. If you are in immediate danger call 999.

If you’re not in immediate danger but are worried about your safety, you should contact one of the following 24-hour domestic abuse organisations:


National Domestic Abuse Helpline

0808 2000 247


Live Fear-Free Helpline

0808 80 10 800


Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline

0800 027 1234

Northern Ireland

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline

0808 802 1414

Surviving Economic Abuse offers all sorts of help and information for people suffering economic abuse.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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