Nearly 18,000 domestic abuse crimes are missing from statistics – claim

On April 25, 2024, the Home Office released its most recent Official Statistics titled ‘Crime outcomes year to December 2023’, presenting data on outcomes attributed to offenses recorded up to December 2023, categorised by outcome type and offense type.

Following this release, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner promptly issued a Press Release expressing concerns regarding the accuracy of the Domestic Abuse statistics. It said:

“17,600 fewer domestic abuse crimes have been recorded in statistics published today, after police were instructed to deliberately count fewer crimes.

In June 2023, the Home Office instructed the police to only count one crime for each time a victim comes forward and allowed police to stop counting crimes of threatening or abusive messages. These rules followed recommendations from a review by the National Police Chiefs Council.

According to the Policing Minister, these changes were introduced to reduce administrative burden, but the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, fears that domestic abuse incidents are being downplayed. She says domestic abuse is very rarely a one-off offence.

New analysis from the Domestic Abuse Commissioner shows that there has been a 7 per cent reduction in recorded crimes of domestic abuse when compared to the same quarter in the preceding year. The statistics published today are the first to capture six months of data collected since these rules came into force. In their release, the Office for National Statistics acknowledge that the decrease in crimes may partly be attributed to the changes in police recording.

There has also been a considerable decrease of 26 per cent in the number of malicious communication offences recorded by the police, a reduction of 71,134 reports. These crimes include threatening or abusive messages, which are commonly reported by domestic abuse victims.

The Commissioner says these counting rule changes fly in the face of the Home Office’s own commitment to “increase reporting to the police of domestic abuse-related incidents and recorded crimes,” stated in the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan 2022. With these new rules, combined with existing limitations to police IT systems, there is no accurate number of how many victims and survivors are reporting domestic abuse, says the Commissioner.

Despite a reduction in the number of crimes being recorded for each time a victim comes forward, domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police remain high at almost 850,000 incidents in the year ending December 2023.”

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner said that they call domestic abuse a “number one priority”, but “our government cannot even say exactly how many domestic abuse crimes are being investigated by the police”. She continued:

“That is simply unacceptable.

These changes have prioritised administrative ease over a clear picture of domestic abuse related crime. This is a serious mistake.

Accurate statistics are integral to improving the response to domestic abuse. If we count fewer domestic abuse crimes, I fear domestic abuse will become a lower priority. These statistics not only underrepresent the reality for victims, but they downplay the hard work of police officers to investigate every domestic abuse crime reported.

I am calling for these new counting rules to be robustly evaluated, and for a clear plan of action to be set out once the evaluation is concluded to ensure victims are not adversely affected.

We also need investment in functional IT systems and robust data tracking of victims from report through to court. Only then will we have a clear picture of how we can and must improve the response of the criminal justice system.”

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.