'Extremely concerning’ drop in convictions for domestic abuse

·2 min read
Young depressed woman
There was a rise in reports of domestic abuse over the pandemic. (Getty)

The number of domestic abuse convictions has dropped by 35% in five years, according to the latest figures.

Data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) shows there were 46,261 domestic abuse convictions in the 12 month period ending on 31 June, compared to 70,853 in 2016/17.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) called the figures "extremely concerning".

Andrea Simon, director of EVAW, said: “These figures are incredibly worrying and must be a wake up to government, the CPS and police forces that we need urgent change in the justice system response to violence against women."

Domestic abuse referrals from the police to the CPS declined by a quarter in a year, falling to 16,504 from 21,789 from 2020 to 2021.

The number of suspects charged dropped from 13,287 to 10,840, a decrease of almost 20%.

Watch: Courts 'scandal' robbing domestic abuse victims of their children - sometimes to their abusers

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EVAW warned that while domestic abuse cases increased during COVID-19, the pandemic is not the sole cause of rising numbers.

Simon said: "COVID-19 has been used as an excuse for skyrocketing rates of domestic violence, but while the pandemic created enabling conditions for abuse, the inequalities that underpin abuse existed long before COVID-19 and are deeply embedded in our society. 

"We cannot blame the pandemic for what is now a familiar pattern of how violence against women is treated by our justice agencies. 

"We’re seeing the treatment of domestic violence mirror what happened with rape - which has been effectively decriminalised.

"This has dramatically eroded survivors’ trust and confidence in the criminal justice system and needs urgent attention."

Read more: Domestic abuse victim reveals shocking pictures of injuries at hands of ex-husband

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Data obtained by the BBC this month showed an alarming increase in the number of domestic abuse cases being dropped due to time running out to bring a charge.

Some 13,000 cases were dropped in England and Wales over five years for this reason.

During April last year the UK charity Refuge, which supports victims of domestic abuse, reported a 700% increase in calls on one day alone.

The head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, declared last year that violence against women and girls was a “shadow pandemic” taking place alongside the wider coronavirus crisis.

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