In the Media

CPS domestic violence figures show further rise in convictions

PUBLISHED July 19, 2007

The Crown Prosecution Service's latest figures for domestic violence show that convictions are continuing to rise year on year and have risen by 20 per cent since 2003. Three-quarters of the cases in the Crown Courts ? where the most serious cases are heard - ended in a conviction.

The figures were released in the annual CPS snapshot survey which counted and analysed the number of cases of domestic violence finalised in December 2006. This is the fifth and final snapshot of domestic violence cases the CPS has carried out since 2002. The snapshot will be replaced in 2008-09 with an annual Hate Crimes Report.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said: "These figures show the huge amount of work everyone has put over the past five years to make sure cases are prosecuted more and more successfully. Domestic violence victims are receiving a better service and better care in the criminal justice system than ever before.

"This 2006 snapshot reflects the national picture across the CPS. There is an increase in cases, which shows victims have more confidence in the system. We have also seen an increase in successful outcomes and the CPS is dropping fewer cases."

Conviction rates have risen from their lowest recorded point of 46 per cent in 2003, to 59 per cent in 2005, up to 66 per cent in 2006 ? a year on year improvement of seven per cent and 20 per cent over three years.

Key findings in the survey included:

  • Recorded cases of domestic violence increased by three per cent compared with December 2005, to more than 3,100 cases charged for prosecution; double those recorded in 2002.
  • Magistrates' courts had a conviction rate of 64 per cent and Crown Courts had a conviction rate of 75 per cent.
  • Fewer cases were discontinued by the CPS: 17 per cent in 2003, 13 per cent in 2005 and 11 per cent in 2006.
  • There was a fall in the number of victims who retracted their statement. In 2004 it was 34 per cent and this fell to 28 per cent in 2006.

Sir Ken said: "I am determined that the improvements highlighted in this report will continue. During 2007and 2008, we will focus on driving up performance still further. We are aiming at a new target of 70 per cent successful prosecutions by April 2008."

Commenting on the CPS snapshot, Baroness Scotland, QC, Attorney General said: "Domestic violence is a terrible crime. Victims are attacked in what should be the safety of their own home by someone who should care for them. Domestic violence accounts for about 15 per cent of violent incidents. Clearly it is a crime that we should all be concerned about.

"The Crown Prosecution Service plays a key role in protecting the victims of domestic violence and bringing their attackers to justice. I am therefore extremely pleased to see that the CPS is bringing more cases of domestic violence to court and that more attackers are being convicted."

Sandra Horley OBE, Chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge commented: "Refuge is encouraged to see the rising number of convictions for domestic violence. As the most abhorrent of crimes, it is vital that domestic violence is taken seriously and perpetrators held accountable for their actions. The legal system is often complex, intimidating and isolating for victims of domestic violence, but Specialist Domestic Violence Courts are having a positive impact. Thanks in many cases to the support of independent domestic violence advocates, the number of women giving evidence is increasing."

There have been a number of initiatives during the year since the last CPS domestic violence report was published. These have included an increase in the number of Specialist Domestic Violence Courts to 64; a CPS poster campaign about violence against women highlighting the range of offences which could be prosecuted as well as support services for victims; the revision of the CPS employee domestic violence policy; and more than 2,800 CPS staff have been trained in domestic violence issues since April 2005, including all lawyers who prosecute in the specialist domestic violence courts.