1.4m women experienced domestic abuse last year – statistics reveal

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released shows that domestic abuse is still the biggest social issue impacting women with an estimated 1.4 million women experiencing this crime in the last year.

The police recorded 889,918 domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales (excluding Devon and Cornwall Police) in the year ending March 2023; a similar number to the previous year (889,311), following increases each year since records began. The police made 36.3 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related reported crimes in the year ending March 2023; up from 29.6 in the year ending March 2022 (in the 41 police forces that supplied offence data and complete arrests data in both years).

What’s more, the number of referrals of suspects of domestic abuse-related cases from the police to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision in England and Wales increased from 67,063 in the year ending March 2022 to 69,314 in the year ending March 2023, following consecutive decreases since the year ending March 2016.

The CPS domestic abuse charging rate in England and Wales increased for the second year to 76.5% in the year ending March 2023 compared with 72.7% in the year ending March 2022; the highest charging rate since the year ending March 2015, when our records began.

The number of domestic abuse-related CPS prosecutions in England and Wales decreased by 3.6% in the year ending March 2023 (51,288) from 53,207 in the year ending March 2022, continuing the downward trend since the year ending March 2017.

The percentage of prosecutions leading to a conviction remained the same for the year ending March 2023 (76.4%) compared with the previous year. The number of non-molestation applications increased by 3.0% in the year ending March 2023 (30,979) from 30,088 in the year ending March 2022; the highest number of applications since our records began in the year ending March 2010. Commenting on the statistics, Ellen Miller, Interim CEO at Refuge said:

“Our National Domestic Abuse Helpline was contacted 171,490 times in the year ending March 2023; and our staff work round the clock, 24/7, 7 days a week to support survivors facing domestic abuse. Many of the women we support face multiple barriers to accessing services and have nowhere else to turn. The data shows that demand for our Helpline remains incredibly high, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

It’s vital that we take seriously the very real threat that domestic abuse continues to pose to women throughout the country and recognise it as the serious crime that it is. The bleak fact remains that on average 2 women per week are killed by a current or former partner and 1 in 4 women will be impacted by domestic abuse in their lifetimes.   

The ONS data shows that there is still a huge misunderstanding about domestic abuse, with 17.5% of victim/survivors reporting that domestic abuse is “just something that happens” we need to improve understanding about this crime, move beyond this narrative that normalises violence against women and girls and increase awareness and funding of the vital support services that are available.   

Supporters generously helped us through the unpreceded surge in demand during the pandemic, but we know the cost-of-living crisis has meant some have been unable to financially support us over the past year. Every 2 minutes someone turns to Refuge for support, and we are still seeing incredibly high demand. Refuge’s services are a lifeline for thousands of women seeking safety during some of the darkest moments of their lives. We urge those that can to support our Christmas appeal at refuge.org.uk.”  

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