Nearly Eighteen Thousand Domestic Abuse Crimes Missing from Statistics

17,600 fewer domestic abuse crimes have been recorded in statistics published today, after police were instructed to deliberately count fewer crimes. 

In June 2023, the Home Office instructed the police to only count one crime for each time a victim comes forward and allowed police to stop counting crimes of threatening or abusive messages. These rules followed recommendations from a review by the National Police Chiefs Council.  

According to the Policing Minister, these changes were introduced to reduce administrative burden, but the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, fears that domestic abuse incidents are being downplayed. She says domestic abuse is very rarely a one-off offence. 

New analysis from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner shows that there has been a 7 per cent reduction in recorded crimes of domestic abuse when compared to the same quarter in the preceding year. The statistics published today are the first to capture six months of data collected since these rules came into force. In their release, the Office for National Statistics acknowledge that the decrease in crimes may partly be attributed to the changes in police recording.  

There has also been a considerable decrease of 26 per cent in the number of malicious communication offences recorded by the police, a reduction of 71,134 reports. These crimes include threatening or abusive messages, which are commonly reported by domestic abuse victims. 

The Commissioner says these counting rule changes fly in the face of the Home Office’s own commitment to “increase reporting to the police of domestic abuse-related incidents and recorded crimes,” stated in the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan 2022. With these new rules, combined with existing limitations to police IT systems, there is no accurate number of how many victims and survivors are reporting domestic abuse, says the Commissioner. 

Despite a reduction in the number of crimes being recorded for each time a victim comes forward, domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police remain high at almost 850,000 incidents in the year ending December 2023.  

Nicole Jacobs, says: “We call domestic abuse a number one priority, but our government cannot even say exactly how many domestic abuse crimes are being investigated by the police. That is simply unacceptable. 

“These changes have prioritised administrative ease over a clear picture of domestic abuse related crime. This is a serious mistake.   

“Accurate statistics are integral to improving the response to domestic abuse. If we count fewer domestic abuse crimes, I fear domestic abuse will become a lower priority. These statistics not only underrepresent the reality for victims, but they downplay the hard work of police officers to investigate every domestic abuse crime reported.  

“I am calling for these new counting rules to be robustly evaluated, and for a clear plan of action to be set out once the evaluation is concluded to ensure victims are not adversely affected.  

“We also need investment in functional IT systems and robust data tracking of victims from report through to court. Only then will we have a clear picture of how we can and must improve the response of the criminal justice system.” 

Read the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s briefing on the Home Office Counting Rules here.

The crime statistics:  

The ONS crime statistics are available here: Crime in England and Wales: year ending September 2023 – Office for National Statistics ( 

The Home Office Counting rules: 

Changes apply only to the counting of crimes, rather than their investigation. The rules, published in June 2023, include changes to: 

  • Re-introduce the ‘Principal crime rule’, whereby one crime – the most serious offence – is counted for every report, even if multiple crimes took place. Previously, up to two crimes would have been counted, with any additional crimes included within those crime records. 
  • Allow more officers than before to remove a crime from the record if evidence suggests no crime took place. 
  • Increase the threshold for recording reports of malicious communications and public order offences to the Home Office. 

Contact: Connie Muttock, Head of Communications to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner [email protected]