Victims of domestic violence still “suffering in silence”
The Crown Prosecution Service in Britain this week reported its highest conviction rate for domestic violence, but says that most victims are still “suffering in silence”.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, revealed in a speech in London on Monday that only ten percent of victims of sexual assault report their crimes to the police, mainly because they don’t trust the justice system to help them.
Starmer said that a woman on average was assaulted 30 times before going to the police.
However figures have improved. In cases of domestic violence referred to prosecutors, the conviction rate has increased from 69% in 2007-08 to 73% in 2011-12.
Likewise the conviction rate for rape charged by prosecutors has risen nearly 5% in the past five years.
The CPS launched its Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy in 2008, which focused on domestic violence, forced marriage, domestic violence and female genital mutilation.
“A lot has changed in recent years. We now have prosecutors who specialise in these types of crimes, we have introduced training and guidance and we have improved the way we engage with communities” Starmer claimed. He also highlighted better training and use of specialist prosecutors.
However these statistics don’t necessarily show the full picture.
The charity Refuge welcomed the news, but said it represented only “the tip of the iceberg“.
Sandra Horley, its chief executive, said: “In London alone there were almost 52,000 domestic violence offences recorded in one year, so the 66,860 cases successfully prosecuted nationally barely scratch the surface.
“We are concerned that the British Crime Survey tells us that there are an estimated 1.2 million women who experience domestic abuse each year in the UK.
“Some of these cases may not be reported to the police for a number of reasons… This leaves a huge number of domestic abuse cases that never reach the police and therefore the courts.
“For those who do report domestic violence the police response is often woefully inadequate.”