HUNDREDS of offences for controlling and coercive behaviour were recorded in Sussex last year, figures show.

The latest recorded crime statistics show a rise in offences nationally.

Home Office figures show Sussex Police received 845 reports of controlling and coercive behaviour in the year to March – though this is down from 1,030 in 2020 to 2021, the first year such crimes are recorded in the data.

Coercive control, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, has been a criminal offence since landmark legislation was introduced in 2015.

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Abusers can be punished for subjecting a partner or family member to controlling behaviour such as isolating them, exploiting them financially, depriving them of basic needs, humiliating, frightening or threatening them.

Across England and Wales, 41,300 offences of controlling and coercive behaviour were recorded in 2021-22 – up more than a third from 30,800 the year before.

Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the charity Victim Support, said: “It is so important that we recognise emotional abuse for what it is and call it out when we see it.

"TV, streaming and other social media has normalised coercive and controlling behaviour, and this has serious consequences.

"Domestic abuse isn’t only physical violence – and manipulative behaviour has no place in healthy relationships.”

READ MORE: 10 Signs of coercive control in a relationship

Mr DeMarco said the rise in offences could be more people reporting abuse to the police, but it is "concerning" that the number of charges for these crimes are also dropping.

In Sussex, 815 coercive control cases were closed last year, with 93.9 per cent abandoned due to difficulties gathering evidence and just 2.7 per cent resulting in a suspect being charged or summoned to court.

This is compared to 92.6 per cent abandoned and 2.3 per cent charged in 2020 to 2021.

The Home Office said controlling or coercive behaviour is a "particularly insidious" form of domestic abuse, and it does not always end at the point of separation.

A spokeswoman said: “That is why our landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 extended the controlling or coercive behaviour offence so it will apply regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator live together."