Commissioner warns Prime Minister: Victims must not suffer consequences of prison crisis

Today the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs has written to the Prime Minister calling for urgent action to address the prison capacity crisis.

The letter urges Government to act now or risk failing in its ambitious pledge to halve violence against women and girls over a decade.

This warning follows new analysis from the Commissioner, revealing that if just 1 in 3 victims reported to the police, we could see up to 10,000 additional domestic abuse convictions, even if conviction rates remain low.

Halving violence against women and girls should rightly enable more domestic abuse victims to come forward, says the Commissioner. But with prisons set to overflow and a probation service on its knees, the criminal justice system must be equipped to cope with additional convictions, otherwise victims will pay the price.

Currently just 1 in 5 victims of domestic abuse report to the police and, of police-recorded crime, just 5% achieve a conviction.

If convictions rise, as they should, this will only add more pressure to the system.

As it stands, prisons are about to reach maximum capacity and probation is struggling to manage the risk of domestic abuse perpetrators in the community.

With Government considering a range of options to alleviate the crisis, the Commissioner wants the safety of domestic abuse victims to be paramount.

Government must get to grips with the basics before this crisis escalates any further, says the Commissioner, and dangerous domestic abuse perpetrators must not be released into the community early.

The Commissioner says that this exclusion must include all known perpetrators – whether their conviction is for a domestic abuse related offence or not. Also included in the letter are calls to consider making domestic abuse a statutory mitigating factor for victims who offend.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs says, “As we expand efforts to build faith in the criminal justice system and improve outcomes for victims, convictions will, and should, only increase. Our prisons must be prepared to manage this.

“I accept that difficult choices must be made, but we must question the purpose of our criminal justice system if victims are forced to deal with the consequences of systemic failings.

“Domestic abuse victims deserve justice. I look forward to working with the Government to achieve this.”

Notes to editors

  • The Crime Survey of England and Wales 2023 found that 18.9% of victims of partner abuse said they had reported the abuse to the police.
  • In the most recent data, just 5% of police recorded crime resulted in a conviction (Office for National Statistics, 2023). We do not have information on the number of perpetrators of domestic abuse who receive a custodial sentence.
  • The Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s analysis estimated the number of additional convictions for domestic abuse perpetrators should 1 in 3 victims report to the police, estimating on the basis that the proportion of recorded crime that results in a conviction (5%) remains the same.
  • Note that conviction figures will include perpetrators who receive both custodial and non-custodial sentences.