Domestic abuse charges drop while reports rise

domestic violence, family law

The number of domestic abuse charges has dropped significantly despite an increase in the number of reports.

In the last year, reports of domestic abuse rose from 431,000 to 444,600 according to figures from 18 police forces across England and Wales. However, the number of these incidents which led to a charge actually fell from 60,700 to 54,800.

These figures were obtained by The Independent. The newspaper discovered that Manchester saw the biggest drop in such charges, where there was a 25 per cent decrease between 2015 and 2016. This represented around 1,700 fewer cases where allegations of domestic abuse ended up with someone facing prosecution.

Meanwhile in London the number of incidents reported to the police rose from 72,535 to 74,770 but the cases that actually ended in a charge fell from 15,694 to 15,010.

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Sarah Champion said it was “extremely concerning that the number of charges for domestic abuse has fallen” while reports increased. This indicated that something was “clearly going wrong in the system” she claimed.

Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, was “worried that [these figures] could have a damaging effect on victims confidence to report in the future”. As many victims suffer abuse for prolonged periods of time before they finally get the police involved, it was “all the more vital that [they] feel confident that when they report domestic abuse, they will be taken seriously and their words acted on”.

She added:

“The government has questions to answer on whether cuts to frontline policing are preventing the police gathering necessary evidence and charging perpetrators of abuse.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office insisted that the government was “committed to tackling domestic abuse” and claimed that more abusers than ever were “being brought to justice”.

Last month, the BBC reported that in Wales the number of domestic violence reports rose by 23 per cent between 2013 and 2015.

Photo by Mark Ramsay via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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