The Victims' Commissioner and Domestic Abuse Commissioner respond to the announcement of government funding for domestic abuse in the Spending Review.
Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner and Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner said in a joint statement:
“We’re delighted the government has listened to our calls for further funding and we welcome this extra money announced in the Spending Review. Looking ahead we also need to have one eye on the long-term, which includes commitments to guaranteed and sustainable funding for the sector.
This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, especially domestic abuse victims, and we want to single out praise for our colleagues in the sector who work tirelessly to make victims safe.
Yesterday’s stark ONS findings reflect what we’ve been hearing from frontline domestic abuse services and indicate that some of our worst fears for lockdown came to pass. We remain extremely concerned about the next few months.
It is particularly worrying to us that criminal justice agencies are not pursuing domestic abuse cases through the courts sufficiently. Backlogs in court cases due to the pandemic only compound this problem, and it is crucial that domestic abuse cases are urgently prioritised.
Domestic abuse is a blight on our society and we need concerted and coordinated action by the government, police and the criminal justice system. Victims and survivors of domestic abuse deserve nothing less.”
Notes for Editors
In the 2020 Spending review:
- The MoJ settlement includes £40 million to provide support to victims of crime, including victims of domestic abuse. This includes £25 million new funding to reflect the impact Covid-19 has had on victims of crime, on top of previously announced £15 million to deliver the government’s manifesto commitment on victim support.
- £119 million in additional funding to support the ongoing response of the wider justice system to Covid-19. This includes £76 million to further increase Family Court and Employment Tribunal capacity and £43 million to ensure that courts and prisons remain Covid-safe.
- The MHCLG settlement includes £125 million to enable local authorities to deliver the new duty to support victims of domestic abuse and their children in safe accommodation in England
- There is a cross-government shared outcomes fund of £46 million for 15 pilots to establish multi-agency partnerships testing interventions to improve the lives of adults who are affected by a combination of three or more of: homelessness; criminal offending; substance misuse; domestic abuse; or poor mental health.
Domestic abuse in lockdown
(ONS data – April to June 2020)
- The number of offences flagged as domestic abuse-related increased each month from April to June 2020, with the largest month-on-month increase (9%) between April and May 2020. This increase coincides with the easing of lockdown measures from 13 May 2020, when it may have been safer for victims to contact the police.
- In April, May and June roughly one-fifth (21%, 20% and 19%) of all offences recorded by the police were flagged as domestic abuse-related, which represents an increase of around five percentage points compared with the same period in previous years.
Domestic abuse prevalence to March 2020
- The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 2.3 million people (5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74) experienced domestic abuse in the last year, indicating no statistically significant change from the previous year.
- The police recorded a total of 1,288,018 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester Police)1 in the year ending March 2020.
- Of these, 758,941 were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes, an increase of 9% from the previous year. The increase may reflect improved recording by police or increased reporting by victims, given the CSEW has shown no statistically significant change.
Referrals to CPS
- Increases in police recorded crime flagged as domestic abuse have not translated into an equivalent increase in domestic abuse referrals to the CPS, which have fallen on a year-on-year basis over the last five years.
- There were 21,789 DA referrals between April and June 2020, roughly equal to the same period in 2019 (21,831). Police recorded crimes flagged as domestic abuse increased by 9% across the same period (198,112 between April and June 2020, compared to 182,562 for the same period in 2019). This follows a sustained reduction in police referrals for domestic abuse since 2014/15:
- There was a 19% decrease in the number of suspects of domestic abuse-flagged cases referred to the CPS from the police from the year ending March 2019 to the year ending March 2020 (from 98,479 to 79,965) and an 11% decrease between the years ending March 2018 and March 2019 (from 110,653 to 98,740)
- Overall, there has been a 37% drop in police referrals to the CPS between the year ending March 2015 to year ending March 2019 (from 126,421 to 79,965)
- The Crown Prosecution Service published data showing that from April to June 2020 there was a 39% drop in prosecutions for domestic abuse cases, and a 55% drop in prosecutions for rape cases, compared to the first three months of the year.