Official figures have revealed that there has been a 13% fall in the number of domestic violence attacks being considered for prosecution since 2010.
Figures obtained by Labour in a Freedom of Information request show that domestic violence cases in England and Wales being referred by police to the Crown Prosecution Service, to be considered for charge and prosecution, has fallen from 101,242 in 2010/11 to 88,110 in 2012/13.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the figures show that after years of improvement, the system is now badly failing domestic violence victims. She believes that the alarming fall coincides with the loss of 15,000 police officers due to the 20% cut in Whitehall funding for the police which had affected their ability to investigate and bring criminals to justice.
This new set of evidence is said to add urgency to the decision by the CPS and the Home Office to launch an inquiry into why police forces are reporting fewer cases of rape, domestic violence and child abuse than they were two years ago. Keir Starmer, the outgoing director of public prosecutions will be meeting with senior police chiefs later this month to discuss whether the police are doing enough to bring cases to court.
Cooper said: “These are shocking and disturbing figures. Theresa May claimed in 2010 she was pursuing a ‘unique opportunity to bring about real change’ on domestic violence. Instead these figures show things have gone backwards and she is failing badly.”
While the number of cases reported has increased by 10%, 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. And this big drop in referrals has all happened since the police cuts started. 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,” said Cooper.
A CPS spokesperson said: “The reasons for fewer cases being referred to the CPS by police is not something we are currently in a position to speculate on. However, together with the Home Office, we are looking into the possible reasons for this and the DPP is hoping to meet with national policing leads in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.”
A Home Office spokesperson defended the government’s record on tackling violence against women and girls, saying the nearly £40m had been restricted for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services and protection for victims had been strengthened through the pilot of “Clare’s Law”.