Refuge responds to CPS announcement on record conviction levels for domestic violence

23rd July 2012

Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, says:

 

“Refuge welcomes the recent CPS report which shows that the number of perpetrators being prosecuted for domestic violence has increased to 91,466 per year. It also shows that the percentage of prosecutions resulting in convictions has increased to 66,860 cases annually.  Refuge has been campaigning for four decades to ensure that women and children are given the protection and justice they deserve and we commend the CPS for their efforts. Whilst we recognise these efforts are a step in the right direction, there is no room for complacency.

“Refuge remains concerned that the numbers of perpetrators prosecuted and subsequently convicted represents the tip of an iceberg. In London alone, there were almost 52,000 domestic violence offences recorded in one year, so the 66,860 successfully prosecuted nationally, barely scratches the surface.

“We are concerned that the British Crime Survey tells us that there are an estimated 1.2 million women who experience domestic violence each year in the UK. Some of these cases may not be reported to the police for a number of reasons, including women being too frightened to come forward.  This leaves a huge number of domestic abuse cases that never reach the police and therefore the courts. For those who do report domestic violence, the police response is often woefully inadequate. Sadly only a fraction of domestic violence perpetrators are ever charged with any crime and brought to justice.

“Refuge is committed to changing attitudes in society as a whole so that women and girls who are the victims of domestic violence feel able to report their perpetrators to the police. We need to do everything we can to encourage victims to report abuse and to support them throughout the court process. This requires public information campaigns and education in schools. It also requires strong leadership within the police and a firm commitment to demonstrating that any complaint to them will be dealt with promptly, robustly and respectfully. Refuge believes this will lead to more convictions and send a strong message to society that domestic violence is unacceptable and carries very serious consequences.

“Encouraging women to come forward is important but it is vital that we challenge and change the history of prejudice towards abused women that still exists in much of society, including the police and the courts. This is no easy task. It will require political will, phenomenal effort, financial investment and the sustained commitment of all before we see any meaningful and enduring change.”