SafeLives respond to latest ONS domestic abuse data release

22nd November 2018

Data published today by ONS demonstrates how domestic abuse perpetrators remain unaccountable and unchallenged.

UK domestic abuse charity, SafeLives, welcomes the ONS data release today. The analysis shows a 23% increase in recorded crime relating to domestic abuse, yet perpetrators remain largely missing from the consequence of their crimes.

The latest ONS data provides analysis of 1,198,094  reports made to the police (2017/18) that were domestic abuse related, which resulted in 599,549 reported crimes, with just 38 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related crimes [1]. The report states that 12% of all police workload is related to domestic abuse, and yet this is only part of the picture.

Throughout the report, is it is clear that the perpetrators behind the two million people impacted by domestic abuse remain largely invisible. If we rely solely on the criminal justice system to hold perpetrators to account, we fail to reduce the risk posed by perpetrators who were not arrested, who were not charged, who were not prosecuted – or the clear majority of perpetrators who were never even reported to the police in the first place. It is clear that only a relatively small proportion of the victims who call the police will find justice and safety through the criminal justice system, but that is also just the tip of the iceberg as this year’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) found that only 17% of victims reported their experiences to the police

Suzanne Jacob, SafeLives’ Chief Executive said:

“We are an evidence-led charity and believe robust analysis of data and listening to survivor experience can result in real long-term change. This evidence needs to capture the whole picture for people experiencing abuse, which means finding out what happens to the perpetrator. The criminal justice system cannot operate on its own in this respect: the police might struggle to build the evidential case and provide timely information and protection, which reduces the chance that someone who is still scared and trying to rebuild their life will feel safe and supported to go to court. But if a criminal justice response doesn’t result in a conviction, where do perpetrators end up and what action is taken to reduce the risk that remains to a current survivor or future victims? If we look at the ONS release published today – we would have to say, this picture remains very poorly understood.

“We are not in a zero-sum game. Victim safety and wellbeing must be prioritised at all points. Without an understanding of the people causing harm, we will never be able to do this effectively enough and see the change we all so urgently need and hope for. We are so pleased to have worked with ONS and a wide range of colleagues to build a picture of victims' experiences. Let’s now put our minds to building a picture of where perpetrators go – to be held accountable or even to change.”

Notes to editors

About SafeLives

We are a UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. 

No one should live in fear. It is not acceptable, not inevitable, and together – we can make it stop.  

Every year, over two million people in the UK experience domestic abuse. For every person being abused, there is someone else responsible for that abuse: the perpetrator. And all too often, children are in the home and living with the impact. 

Domestic abuse affects us all; it thrives on being hidden behind closed doors. We must make it everybody’s business.  

About the ONS data release

The ONS data release looks at domestic abuse in England and Wales for the year ending March 2018. The report brings together data on domestic abuse and its consequences from across police forces, the government and victim support organisations. It is the third annual report that brings these data together in one place and has been produced in response to a call from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) for better information that enables more thorough analysis of how domestic abuse is dealt with in individual force areas.

We are pleased to have worked with the ONS and a wide range of organisations to contribute to the data in the release and we welcome the opportunity to shine a light on the experiences of victims of domestic abuse at a national level.

For interviews or more information, please contact Penny East, Head of Communications, on 07818593562 or at penny.east@safelives.org.uk 

 


[1] In the 39 police forces that could supply adequate data.