Refuge responds to CPS Violence Against Women and Girls report

The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has today announced the highest ever rate of domestic violence convictions

 

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

Refuge is encouraged that the CPS continues to put the spotlight on crimes of violence against women and girls. Under the leadership of Alison Saunders, the CPS is making much-needed progress in this area.

“We welcome the new CPS figures which show that 58,276 domestic violence convictions were made in 2013/14 – representing 74.6% of the total domestic violence prosecutions that year.  But there is no room for complacency.  The conviction rate has risen by just 0.3% since 2012/13.  It is a step in the right direction – but much more needs to be done.

“The numbers of perpetrators prosecuted and subsequently convicted represents just the tip of an iceberg.  58,276 convictions sounds like a big number, but when we consider that over a million women experience domestic violence each year, it is barely scratching the surface.

“A huge number of domestic violence cases never even reach the police and therefore the courts.  Many women are too frightened to come forward.  Many women who do report domestic violence receive a very poor response from the police.  HMIC’s recent investigation made this crystal clear: it found damning evidence that the police response is “not good enough” and that serious failings in policing are putting women and children at “unnecessary risk”.  All too often, officers fail to take the allegations of abused women and children seriously.  They fail to arrest and charge violent men.  This means that only a fraction of domestic violence perpetrators are ever brought to justice.

“The fact that the volume of domestic violence referrals from the police has risen over the last year is a positive sign.  Progress is being made.  But there is room for improvement within the CPS as well.  Refuge sees women let down by the CPS on a daily basis.  Many prosecutors lack an understanding of the complex dynamics of domestic violence and, all too often, perpetrators receive lenient sentences that do not fit their crimes.  Just earlier this year, an inquest into the death of Cassie Hasanovic found that she was let down by two separate police forces and the CPS.

“Refuge is calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and all state agencies – including the CPS – to victims of domestic violence.  We need to ensure that women and children who make the brave decision to disclose their experiences are given safety and justice by those who have a legal duty to protect them.  This is a matter of life and death.  Please add your support to our campaign by signing our petition.”