BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: A missed opportunity to ask the questions which matter

10th October 2017

Our response to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on domestic abuse

BBC Radio 4's Today Programme is a flagship for the station and the broadcaster as a whole. It is listened to by millions, every morning. So it has a duty to be exceptionally good at what it does.

This morning the Crown Prosecution Service released significant data showing, amongst other things, that the rate of prosecution and conviction for domestic abuse offences is going down. It also showed that convictions for sexual offences is going up.

During his interview with the Director of Public Prosecutions, John Humphrys missed the opportunity to ask any of the questions which matter. He didn't ask 'How do offences like this impact on their victims?' 'Can victims and survivors of these serious crimes have confidence in the police and prosecution service?' 'Why, given changes in society, do men still perpetrate serious sexual and violent offences against women at such a high rate?' Instead, he asked a series of questions the implicit basis of which was that the true victims of these offences is the very tiny number of people subject to false allegations. His opening question was whether the prosecution of these offences was sucking resources from other crime types.

Every rape, sexual assault, and abusive act is a violation of someone's right to live safely in the world. At a moment in history when committing sexual assault has proved no barrier to becoming President of the United States, women and men care deeply about these issues, how they are responded to, how they are talked about.

This interview did not meet the high standards the Today Programme is rightly proud of. It entirely overlooked the experience of those who have survived violent, abusive and sexual crime, and indeed those who haven't. It's exhausting to have to continue to point out that men from Harvey Weinstein to Oscar Pistorius are not the victims of the abuse they perpetrate. But we'll continue to do it, and we hope the Today Programme, and others who frame our public debate, will do better.

About SafeLives
We are a national 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. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. 
No one should live in fear. It is not acceptable, not inevitable, and together – we can make it stop.  
Every year, two million people 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.  

For interviews or more information, please contact Penny East, Head of Communications at SafeLives, on 07818 593 562 or by emailing penny.east@safelives.org.uk