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Two recently published reports reveal the extent of domestic abuse in England and Wales

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On 8 December 2016 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published a report based on national and local domestic abuse data from across the crime and criminal justice system highlighting the prevalence of domestic abuse. 

Last week also saw the release of Women's Aid's The Femicide Census Report providing a thought provoking analysis of killings of women by men.

The cross government definition of domestic violence and abuse recognises defines domestic abuse as: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. It can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

Both reports are deserving of reading in full and can be accessed online:

Office for National Statistics report

The Femicide Census Report

Here are 10 of the revealing statistics highlighted by the ONS's report:

  • An estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 said they were a victim of domestic abuse in the one year period running from March 2015 - March 2016. This equates to a prevalence rate of 6 in 100 adults. Women were more likely to report having experienced domestic abuse than men.
  • During the same period a total of 1.03 million domestic abuse-related incidents were recorded by the police. Following investigations, the police concluded that a domestic abuse-related criminal offence was committed in approximately 4 in every 10 (41%) of these incidents (421,000).
  • There were a total of 432 domestic homicides recorded by the police in England and Wales, between April 2012 and March 2015. Of these 432 domestic homicides, 73% of victims were female.
  • 77% of female domestic homicide victims were killed by a partner or ex-partner, with the remaining 23% killed by a family member.
  • For male homicides, there was a much more even split, with around a half (51%) of victims killed by a partner or ex-partner and the other half (49%) killed by a family member.
  • Domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police accounted for approximately 1 in 10 of all crimes. The majority of domestic abuse (78%) consisted of violence against the person offences.
  • A decision to charge was made for 70% of domestic abuse-related cases referred to the CPS by the police. Convictions were secured for three-quarters of domestic abuse-related prosecutions.
  • In 68% of the domestic abuse cases referred to CPS the defendant pleaded guilty, so most of the cases recorded as successful outcomes were due to guilty pleas (91%).
  • Over half of unsuccessful prosecutions (53%) were due to either victim retraction, victim non-attendance or evidence that the victim did not support the case. Victims may not want to be involved in the prosecution for a number of reasons, for example due to the level of fear and control exerted by the perpetrator.
  • The trend in the prevalence of domestic abuse has remained fairly stable since the year ending March 2009, but is at its lowest since the year ending March 2005.

The Femicide Census Report found that: 

  • between 2009 and 2015, 936 women have been killed by men.
  • 598 (64%) were killed by their current or former partners; 75 (8%) women were killed by their sons.
  • Most women who are killed are killed by a man known to them. 598 women were killed by men identified as current or former partners.
  • Women are at significant risk at the point of separation from an abusive partner. 76% of women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse were killed within the first year that followed their separation.

In March 2016 the Home Office published its Violence against Women and Girls Strategy 2016 - 2020 and has pledged £80 million in funding. Only time will tell if the strategy is implemented in full and what the impact will be upon the high levels of domestic abuse in our society.

As highlighted by the Femicide Census Report victims of domestic abuse are particularly vulnerable around and just after the time of separation. Protective orders such a non-molestation orders and occupation orders are available in the Family Courts which are aimed at safeguarding those at risk. If you require advice or assistance then contact our family team, on 020 7091 2869, to discuss what we can do to help you.