Joint statement issued by Victims' and Domestic Abuse Commissioners in reponse to latest CPS figures

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC and Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales have issued a joint statement in response to the latest Crime Prosecution Service domestic abuse statistics.

The commissioners said: “The CPS data published yesterday (30 July) highlighted a worrying trend over the past five years in prosecuting perpetrators of domestic abuse.

“In the five-year period 2014/15 to 2019/20 the number of cases referred to the CPS for domestic abuse fell from 126,461 in 2014/15 to 79,965 in 2019/20, which represents a 37% reduction.

“This is despite a large rise in complaints across a similar period: domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police rose by 77% between 2015-16 and 2018-19 (from 421,865 to 746,219).

“It is vital that the criminal justice system responds effectively to domestic abuse to keep victims and survivors safe and bring perpetrators to justice.

“The 22% fall in prosecutions in the latest year to be reported is deeply concerning, as it is steeper than previous years and suggests the decline in the prosecution rate is accelerating.

“While improved police recording of complaints is to be welcomed, it is difficult to understand why there has been such a sharp drop in prosecutions.

“We know the vast majority of victims and survivors never report to the police. It is so important we give them the confidence to feel that if they report, they will be protected and swift action will be taken to hold their perpetrators to account.

“How do we build this confidence in the light of these figures?

“The Domestic Abuse Bill, a flagship piece of government legislation is progressing through Parliament and holds promise to transform the experience of victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

“However, this Bill will fail to achieve the transformation we all want to see if perpetrators are simply not being prosecuted for their crimes.

“After years of work to bring domestic abuse out of the shadows and to improve the criminal justice response, we must urgently address and reverse the year on year fall in the numbers of perpetrators being prosecuted.

“We are determined to take this issue up with ministers and criminal justice agencies, to understand the reasons behind this decline and to press for immediate action as a matter of priority.

“Victims and survivors of domestic abuse deserve nothing less.”