Thursday 20th July 2017
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, says:
The latest statistics on domestic abuse, released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), confirm that domestic abuse and violence is an epidemic requiring urgent and concerted action in policing – and all our public services.
It is shocking that one in ten of all offences recorded by the police is domestic abuse-related, according to police recorded crime collected by the Home Office. While nearly one third of all violence against a person crimes are recorded as domestic abuse-related.
We welcome the news that there has been a 10% year-on-year increase in police flagging offences as being domestic abuse-related. This suggests that the police are making steps to improve their identification and recording of domestic abuse crimes. However, less than 1% of domestic abuse-related offences were recorded as a coercive control offence. As we know from research and our work with survivors , coercive control, that is a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence, lies at the heart of domestic abuse and this figure suggests that much more needs to be done by the police in identifying coercive and controlling offences.
The ONS’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) does not adequately acknowledge that domestic violence is a crime where women are overwhelmingly the victims and men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of domestic abuse. The Home Office’s homicide statistics show that women were far more likely than men to be killed by partners or ex-partners (44% of female victims compared with 7% of male victims) yet this disparity is not adequately reflected in ONS’s Crime Survey.
Women’s Aid has been working with the ONS, and other experts in the sector, on improving the way the Crime Survey captures experiences of domestic abuse as their current prevalence estimates do not take into account important context and impact information, which would provide a more accurate picture of domestic abuse.
The current Crime Survey, therefore, fails to show the true nature of domestic abuse, especially when it comes to the impact of coercive control and the gendered-nature of domestic abuse. Women’s Aid would like to see further training provided for the police on identifying domestic abuse, especially coercive control, and understanding its impact to give more survivors the confidence to report abuse to the police and seek justice in whichever area they reside in or have experienced abuse.
Although this data does not offer a complete picture of the extent and nature of domestic abuse, the ONS’s latest statistics show that domestic abuse continues to be an enormous issue for all of society and how the need for services to take domestic abuse seriously and properly support survivors with in their specific needs is more urgent than ever.