In response to the Office of National Statistics latest figures on domestic abuse, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said:
“Domestic abuse recorded by the police remains at near record volumes across England and Wales. Last year the numbers recorded by police were up 79,000 (6 per cent).
“During the national lockdowns, we heard of huge demand for support for domestic abuse services across England and Wales, and of helplines being sometimes overwhelmed with calls. The increase in police recorded crime is a small reflection of the difficulties and dangers faced by victims of domestic abuse during this time, as well as the increased awareness of domestic abuse amongst the public.
“While I am encouraged that more domestic abuse is being recorded by the police, I am increasingly concerned that the CPS charging rate has fallen for the third consecutive year.
“Not only are cases less likely to be charged, but the time taken to charge has quadrupled from 4 days in 2014 to 18 days between 2020 to 2021. This is shocking.
“Today’s publication also demonstrates the variation in the criminal justice response across England and Wales. It is concerning to see that, for example, in the South West it took an average of almost two months (52 days) for the CPS to make a decision on charging domestic abuse related crimes, compared to an average of 14 in the East Midlands. This post code lottery simply must not be allowed to continue.
“Delays mean that domestic abuse victims are not getting the action or protection that they so desperately need. This not only adds to their distress but can lead to fewer victims coming forwards in the first place.
“Now that lockdown restrictions are over we mustn’t forget about victims of domestic abuse – and must recognise that risk to victims can actually be higher. It is critical that the criminal justice system prioritises domestic abuse, in order to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators to account. It’s also essential that we all continue to look out for signs of domestic abuse with our neighbours, colleagues and friends.
“The Crime Survey for England and Wales did not capture information on domestic abuse prevalence following the move to telephone surveys during the pandemic. It is disappointing that we are unable to say what the impact of the pandemic has been on the overall prevalence of domestic abuse, but we know from services, helpline data, and research that intensity, frequency and severity of abuse has increased. It is very important that the ONS are able to report on prevalence through the Crime Survey for England and Wales as soon as possible.”