Skip to main content

Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2016

A report bringing together statistics to enable more thorough analysis of how domestic abuse is dealt with at the local level within England and Wales

This report brings together national and local domestic abuse data from:

  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)
  • Home Office incident and police recorded crime data
  • Home Office Homicide Index data
  • Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data including; referrals, prosecutions and convictions

Alongside this report, a Domestic Abuse Statistics – Data Tool has been published, allowing users to explore data for their police force area in more detail and compare this with other areas.

There were an estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 who said they were a victim of domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2016 CSEW. Women were more likely to report having experienced domestic abuse than men.

A large number of domestic abuse-related incidents were recorded by the police (1.03 million) in the year ending March 2016. Following investigations, the police concluded that a domestic abuse-related criminal offence was committed in approximately 4 in every 10 (41%) of these incidents (421,000).

Domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police accounted for approximately 1 in 10 of all crimes. The majority of domestic abuse (78%) consisted of violence against the person offences.

A decision to charge was made for 70% of domestic abuse-related cases referred to the CPS by the police. Convictions were secured for three-quarters of domestic abuse-related prosecutions. In 68% of the domestic abuse cases referred to CPS the defendant pleaded guilty, so most of the cases recorded as successful outcomes were due to guilty pleas (91%).

Over half of unsuccessful prosecutions (53%) were due to either victim retraction, victim non-attendance or evidence that the victim did not support the case. Victims may not want to be involved in the prosecution for a number of reasons, for example due to the level of fear and control exerted by the perpetrator. In 22% of unsuccessful prosecutions the defendant was acquitted by a jury or magistrates after a trial.

Caution should be taken when interpreting data on domestic abuse. Measures of domestic abuse presented in this report refer to victims, offences, suspects and defendants and are collected by different organisations, using differing timescales and collection methods. As these data do not refer to the same cohort of cases, direct comparisons cannot be made across data sources.

Police force area level data on domestic abuse contain similar caveats. The figures presented reflect differing local practices, priorities and demands on police forces that could result in different recording procedures at each stage of the criminal justice process.