I said: “Two women a week die at the hands of their partners or former partners. In Oldham, between October 2012 and September 2013, more than 5,300 women were subject to abuse, a third of whom were abused in front of children. With 13% fewer domestic violence cases being prosecuted, what are the implications for justice for these women?”
The Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, replied: “The honourable Lady raises an important point. Last year, the figures showed that 76 women lost their lives at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or lover. That is lower than in previous years, but even one such case is one too many, and we are all agreed on that across the House. My hon. Friend the Minister for Crime Prevention is doing work on such issues, looking at prosecutions and at ensuring that the right response is available so that women can indeed see justice when they have suffered at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.”
My residents’ survey in Oldham East and Saddleworth, which included round table sessions with local organisations and groups, helped shape my top ten priorities with one of them being to tackle domestic violence against women. A 13% overall fall in the number of domestic violence cases being referred to the CPS is appalling.
In 2010, Theresa May claimed she was going to bring about ‘real change’ on domestic violence but these figures show things have gone downhill and I believe that she has failed victims. On her watch action against domestic violence in the criminal justice system is disintegrating before our eyes.
The number of cases reported to the police has increased by nearly 10% but the vast majority of police forces have cut the number of cases they refer for prosecution by 20%. That means one in five perpetrators who would previously have been charged are now getting away with it. Referrals and prosecutions were going up before the election. But now, fewer police officers are referring fewer domestic violence cases for prosecution and victims are being let down as a result.
With cuts to policing and specialist services it is vital we ensure forces have the resources and the expertise to act and have a commitment to take this all the way to convictions.
I am pleased that we have announced that a Labour Government will publish performance statistics for each police force region on performance on violence against women and girls; including police recording, arrests, referrals to the CPS for charging, prosecutions and convictions. This is a hugely important step for police accountability, increasing transparency and stimulating a look-again at a key area of performance.
- According to the ONS Crime Survey, an estimated 1.2 million female and 700,000 males were victims of domestic abuse in the last year.
- Overall, 30% of women had experience domestic abuse since the age of 16, with 16% of men having been victims.
- Nearly a quarter of women living in lone parent households were victims of domestic abuse in the last year (22.7%) compared with around 1 in 20 of those living in a household with other adults and children (5.3%) or a household with no children (6.3%).
- Women victims of partner abuse were more likely to have been abused more than once in the last year by their partner (30%) than to have only been abused once (19%).
- Children that become caught up in domestic abuse are at greater risk of suffering mental health, behavioural and educational problems than those whose lives are free of it.
A breakdown of performance by police force are available on the Guardian Data Blog here.
For details of how to report domestic violence or contact details for organisations that can help, click here