Bracknell Forest reported no cases of psychological domestic abuse to local police in six months, despite 13,000 allegations being recorded throughout the country in this period.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) is one of just 10 forces to have recorded no offences of controlling and coercive behaviour between April and September 2020, figures show.

But Home Office data shows forces in England and Wales recorded more than 13,000 allegations of coercive control in the same period.

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Bracknell News: Thames Valley Police one of just 10 forces to have recorded no 'coercive control' offences in six monthsThames Valley Police one of just 10 forces to have recorded no 'coercive control' offences in six months

Separate figures show that the force also assigned no outcomes to closed investigations in that time, while forces elsewhere logged almost 10,000 - just a fraction of which ended in someone being charged.

And where an outcome was decided, at least 90 per cent of the coercive control cases across England and Wales were dropped because of difficulties with evidence.

Legislation was introduced five years ago to tackle the "insidious" form of domestic abuse but the majority of cases do not reach court.

The law was intended to protect victims of 'extreme psychological and emotional abuse' but Women's Aid says it is clear "only a tiny proportion of survivors" are seeing justice.

The legislation aims to close a gap in domestic abuse laws by prosecuting offenders who stop short of physical violence but whose actions have a serious impact on their victims.

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

However, just 4 per cent of 9,456 cases closed by police forces across England and Wales between April and September last year resulted in a charge or summons.

A review into the law's effectiveness is currently underway, while the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs' Council have acknowledged there is more work to be done to increase prosecution rates.

Bracknell News: PICTURED: Police officers PICTURED: Police officers

A Home Office spokesperson called coercive and controlling behaviour "insidious", adding: "We have worked closely with the police and prosecutors to ensure the law is used appropriately and since 2015 police recorded offences and prosecutions have increased year on year.

“However, we recognise there is more to do and we continue to work to identify the best ways to ensure the offence is properly understood and applied.”

For the offence to be prosecuted, a purposeful pattern of behaviour that has a serious effect must be evidenced and the accused must be shown to have known or 'ought to have known' that their behaviour would have had such an impact.

The new figures are likely to reflect a "significant" number of crimes that did not meet that prosecution threshold, according to Louisa Rolfe, assistant commissioner at the NPCC.

She said in such cases, officers work to safeguard victims and build cases should abuse worsen, adding: "This is still relatively new legislation and we are determined that we will use it effectively to better protect victims and bring dangerous offenders to justice.”

Lucy Hadley from Women’s Aid described the proportion of cases closed due to evidential difficulties as “really concerning” but acknowledged that gathering evidence in such cases was a challenge.

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She said it was vital “judges, prosecutors and police officers truly understand coercive control and are confident in investigating, evidencing and prosecuting this crime.”

While the percentage of cases reaching court remains small, it has risen steadily since the introduction of the law, with around 600 magistrate court first hearings taking place between April and September.