The Crown Prosecution Service last year prosecuted 91,000 cases involving violence against women and girls, up from 75,000 cases three years before, and convictions rose by 29% over the same period – but still only one in ten women reported serious sexual assault to the police.
- According to the CPS, this was their ‘highest conviction rate’ and in rape prosecutions there was ‘a four percentage point increase’ in the conviction rate last year.
- 15,000 more offenders were ‘brought to justice in a year than just four years ago’.
- You can read more HERE.
‘A lot has changed in recent years,’ commented the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC. ‘We now have prosecutors who specialise in these types of crime; we have introduced training and guidance; and we have improved the way we engage with communities.’ Starmer argued that the CPS had ‘delivered a cultural change’.
Starmer pointed out:
- According to the British Crime Survey, over one million women suffered domestic abuse a year in the UK, over 300,000 women were sexually assaulted and 60,000 women raped.
- Fewer than one in four people who suffered abuse at the hands of their partner – and only around one in 10 women who experience serious sexual assault – report it to the police.
‘That makes it all the more important that when such a crime is reported it is dealt with professionally, effectively and with understanding,’ said Starmer. ‘In the past, all too often the criminal justice system failed in this respect. But, as I have already suggested, that is changing.’
‘Refuge remains concerned that the numbers of perpetrators prosecuted and subsequently convicted represents the tip of an iceberg,’ said Horley. 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.’
Sandra Horley, Refuge
The Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy
In 2008 the CPS began its Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. According to Starmer, all 3,000 prosecutors have been trained on domestic violence issues, and more than 800 prosecutors have been trained as rape specialists. The report published this week assesses the success of that strategy.
‘We have seen the volume of prosecutions for violence against women and girls rise from 75,000 in 2007-08 to 91,000 in 2011-12 an increase of 21%. And we are also prosecuting those cases more successfully – the volume of convictions rising by 29% from 52,000 to almost 67,000. That means 15,000 more offenders are now brought to justice in a year compared to just four years ago…. But the figures only tell half the story.’
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Equalities, also welcomed the progress but added that domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and girls were ‘still largely hidden crimes’.
‘We know, for example, that the British Crime Survey found that 5 million women have reported experiencing domestic abuse by a partner or family member as an adult. Yet worryingly, the total number of domestic violence convictions between 2006/07 and 2010/11 was just 6.5 per cent of the total number of domestic violence incidents recorded by the police.’ That she said was ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.
‘When one in five of the tens of thousands of 999 calls received by some police forces are domestic violence related, yet across the whole country only around 60,000 people are successfully prosecuted for domestic violence, it must be a call to action.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award