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Number of domestic violence victims prosecuting their abusers on the decline
- AuthorSam Miles
Cuts in police and support services are being blamed for an increase in the number of domestic violence victims withdrawing charges against their alleged abusers. Worryingly, in correlation with this decline in victims following through their charges, the number of domestic violence incidents is on the increase. Sam Miles, Family Lawyer, explains here what support is out there for victims, including the importance of legal advice.
Data obtained by Simpson Millar under a Freedom of Information request shows that at least 160,015 victims withdrew their support for charges against their alleged abusers in 2016. This is an increase of nearly 40% compared with figures from 2015, which sat at 116,885, according to figures from 34 out of England’s 39 police forces.
“It tends to be that the withdrawal of evidence and consequent charge is after the police have determined that a crime has taken place,” begins Sam. “The significant increase has drawn attention to the impact that policing and specialist services cuts are having on the victims of these serious, and occasionally deadly, crimes. By not providing the necessary support, people are being placed into dangerous situations and their abuser is escaping justice and therefore able to continue their dominance over their victim.”
Recent findings have shown that the first year after a victim is separated from an abuser is the most dangerous. “This is the time when victims need the most support, and these figures show that they are not receiving it,” continues Sam. “Victims of domestic violence will naturally feel scared and vulnerable, and believe that they are trapped with no way of escape. Support services, such as refuges, and adequate policing can help the victim overcome those concerns, and feel like they are being taken seriously and will be protected. Many decide to withdraw their allegations as they believe by continuing they are putting themselves and any children or other family members at risk.”
Since 2010, 17% of specialist refuges for domestic violence victims in England have been cut according to charity, Women’s Aid. “We live and work in one of the most vulnerable areas in England, as Hampshire has been identified as the place where victims are most likely to withdraw their support. 11,463 victims refused to see through charges in 2016, which is over half of the total domestic violence crimes recorded in the county.”
In February, Theresa May announced a consultation involving the handling of domestic abuse that is planned to result in a new domestic violence and abuse act. She also promised £20million in extra funding for domestic abuse services and vowed to “transform” the way the problem was dealt with.
Sam concludes, “Support is out there for victims of domestic abuse, including Legal Aid. This can be used by victims who need injunctions to prevent their abusive partner from using or threatening violence, harassing or intimidating them. Those injunctions, once granted, are enforceable by the police as breach of them is a criminal offence. There are many different options that victims have, and these will vary with every person depending on their own situation and the level of threat present. Legal advice will not only give you ways of bringing the abuse to an end, but we also have a number of connections with local support services who can help.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and would like to discuss your options confidentially, you can contact Sam on 02380 717431 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.