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A shocking report has found prosecutions against domestic abusers have fallen by 50 per cent over the last three years.
The Centre for Women’s Justice lodged a ‘super-complaint’ in 2019, highlighting ‘serious failures’ by the police service to use powers in order to protect domestic abuse victims.
This resulted in the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services to launch an investigation, to which their findings have just been published.
The report found Domestic Violence Protection Orders are obtained on average in only 1 per cent of domestic abuse crimes. Even the best performing forces only use them in just over 2.5 per cent of cases, whilst 16 police forces used them in less than 0.5 per cent.
Restraining Orders are granted in less than a quarter of domestic abuse prosecutions. Women are turning to the civil courts and whilst civil injunctions have increased by 48 per cent from 2010 to 2019, convictions for breaches dropped by three per cent in the same period.
Harriet Wistrich, the Director of the Campaign for Women’s Justice, said of the report’s findings: “It is no wonder that women came out in droves to protest the lack of safety afforded to women by the criminal justice system following the murder of Sarah Everard.
“This report highlights some of the reasons why so few women feel confidence in the system. Whilst new the Domestic Abuse Act and other legislative initiatives are to be welcomed, such laws are worth little more than the paper they are written on, unless they are properly implemented.
“Until the government properly resources the creaking criminal justice system and police and other agencies are held accountable for failures, many victims will continue to be at unnecessary risk of harm.”
A spokesperson from the Crown Prosecution Service told Tyla: “We have huge sympathy for victims of domestic abuse and are working closely with police and victim support groups to address the worrying fall in prosecutions.
“We are already updating training, guidance and policies for our prosecutors and will implement further measures over the coming months.”
The CPS also confirmed they were looking to strengthen these measures, having previously held a virtual domestic abuse conference for police, prosecutors and wider criminal justice partners promoting the importance of multi-agency working, as well as revamping their training so prosecutors are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to prosecute more difficult cases.
If you have been affected by the content of this article, please contact Women’s Aid here.
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