After seeing years of progress within the criminal justice system and steps to prioritise and address violence against women, Women’s Aid is concerned to see such steep reductions in both the number of domestic abuse cases being referred from the police to the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS), and the numbers of perpetrators being charged, prosecuted and convicted. This has been evident for a number of years in sexual violence, resulting in what women’s rights campaigners have called the ‘decriminalisation of rape.’
Acting Chief Executive Nicki Norman said:
“We have recently been warning that police referrals to the CPS for domestic abuse cases are falling, and urgently calling for action to ensure that this reduction stops. Today, we see that the volume of alleged perpetrators referred by the police to the CPS for a charging decision has fallen from 98,470 in 2018-19 to 76,965 in quarter 4 of 2019/20. The proportion of cases that are administratively finalised – where the police has not responded to requests for further information from the CPS within three months – is also extremely concerning.
“Police forces urgently need resources and training to effectively deliver crucial investigative work in complex cases of domestic abuse, rape, stalking and other crimes. Support for survivors throughout these traumatic and lengthy processes is vital. However, we know that women’s access to specialist domestic abuse services remains a postcode lottery.
“These CPS statistics must be a wake-up call for the government. The reforms to pre-charge bail in 2017 must be reversed through the domestic abuse bill, to make certain that survivors can rely on bail conditions to protect them whilst investigations are ongoing. It is also essential that the College of Policing Domestic Abuse Matters training is rolled out across all forces. This specialist training programme, which Women’s Aid is licensed to deliver, ensures that every frontline officer understands the impacts of domestic abuse.
“What compounds this is our deep concern that the cross-government violence against women and girls strategy ended in March and has not yet been replaced. As these devastating statistics on women’s access to justice show, delivering a fully-funded, comprehensive new strategy to prevent violence against women and protect survivors, needs to be a government priority.”
If you are worried that your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, please visit www.womensaid.org.uk for support and information, including Live Chat, the Survivors’ Forum, The Survivor’s Handbook and the Domestic Abuse Directory.
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Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Over the past 45 years, Women’s Aid has been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic abuse through practice, research and policy. We empower survivors by keeping their voices at the heart of our work, working with and for women and children by listening to them and responding to their needs.
We are a federation of nearly 180 organisations which provide just under 300 local lifesaving services to women and children across the country. We provide expert training, qualifications and consultancy to a range of agencies and professionals working with survivors or commissioning domestic abuse services, and award a National Quality Mark for services which meet our quality standards. We hold the largest national data set on domestic abuse, and use research and evidence to inform all of our work. Our campaigns achieve change in policy, practice and awareness, encouraging healthy relationships and helping to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated.
Our support services, which include our Live Chat Helpline, the Survivors’ Forum, the No Woman Turned Away Project, the Survivor’s Handbook, Love Respect (our dedicated website for young people in their first relationships), the national Domestic Abuse Directory and our advocacy projects, help thousands of women and children every year.