Only one in five domestic abuse cases ends up in Lancashire's courts

Lancashire Police recorded 28,585 incidents of domestic abuse in the 12 months to the end of March
Lancashire Police recorded 28,585 incidents of domestic abuse in the 12 months to the end of March

The number of people prosecuted for domestic abuse has fallen in Lancashire.

Lancashire Police recorded 28,585 incidents of domestic abuse in the 12 months to the end of March, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. This was an increase of five per cent from the same period in 2016-17.

However, only 2,811 cases were taken up by the Crown Prosecution Service over the same period, giving a prosecution rate of just one in every five claims. This is down from one in four the previous year.

Across England and Wales, domestic abuse incidents increased by six per cent while the number of prosecutions fell by five per cent.

Charities have described the figures as "shocking", and called for more action to ensure abusers are brought to justice. Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: "This failure by the police to consistently protect survivors is a major concern and is likely to damage the survivor’s trust in the police. We know from our work with survivors that it often takes a woman a lot of courage to report domestic abuse and it is rarely the first incident of domestic abuse that she has experienced."

The ONS said that improved accuracy in the recording of domestic abuse could be behind the increase in incidents. However, the National Police Chiefs' Council explained that reports had risen "considerably" over the past eight years, while cuts to police resources had left officers struggling to provide the best response to victims.

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, NPCC lead on domestic abuse, said: "Domestic abuse is an increasing proportion of emergency call demand in every force and therefore resources are stretched. When we take longer to respond to a call, investigate a crime or arrest an offender, victims are less likely to have confidence in the justice process. However, I’m heartened that many forces are striving to protect more victims and arrest and prosecute more offenders."

Of the cases recorded by Lancashire Police, 50 per cent were logged as crimes. The rest remained as incidents, which means an officer investigating a report of domestic abuse determined an offence had not taken place. Domestic abuse-related crimes accounted for 11 per cent of all crimes dealt with over the year, and 28 per cent of violent offences.

For every 100 domestic abuse crimes last year, just 57 offenders were arrested and 17 were charged. Only 15 in every 100 crimes led to a conviction.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge said: "It is scandalous that so many women’s lives are torn apart by current or former partners. When so few victims get justice, it doesn’t encourage others to go through what can be a traumatic process."

A Home Office spokesman said the Government would soon publish a "landmark" Domestic Abuse Bill which would look to transform how the crime is dealt with. He said: “We would urge anyone who is the victim of this horrific crime to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and the justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser."