England’s first Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, has been calling for drastic change in governmental policy surrounding the protection and management of domestic abuse victims in the UK.
A vote took place within the House of Lords in mid-October to decide on whether key changes were to be made to Priti Patel’s Policing Bill which would implement a legal duty for local authorities and police forces in England and Wales to prioritise any domestic abuse, domestic homicide, and sexual offences within their serious violence prevention plans.
A Timely Opportunity for Much Needed Change
The commissioner emphasized that the time to instate such changes is ripe given the current discourse surrounding the recent murders of victims such as Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman, Sabina Nessa, and Bibaa Henry which have helped raise further awareness on the ongoing violence against women crisis in this country.
This comes off the back of Jacobs’ continual reporting on domestic violence statistics during her time in office to help incentivise greater government attention to what is unfortunately becoming an increasingly widespread issue. The commissioner’s comments on statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Crime Prosecution Services (CPS) in October were as follows:
“…domestic abuse related offences have more than doubled since 2016. Concerningly, the number of perpetrators convicted of domestic abuse offences in the last four years has reduced.”
“Police recorded data suggests that in 2016, there were over 421,000 domestic abuse related crimes per year, whereas in 2023 there were over 885,000 domestic abuse related crimes. Despite the high volume of domestic abuse crimes, criminal justice outcomes for domestic abuse are getting worse. Compared with data from four years ago, fewer referrals of domestic abuse offences are being made to the CPS, fewer charges are taking place, fewer prosecutions are completed, and fewer convictions are achieved.”
“For too long victims and survivors of domestic abuse have been let down by the criminal justice system and dangerous perpetrators have been allowed to evade justice. These statistics are yet more evidence that we have much further to go.”
Differing Political Views
Desipte Jacobs’ lobbying for change to the Policing Bill, Patel has been insistent that each region should ultimately decide for itself whether domestic abuse cases are made a matter of priority in light of other current concerns such as knife crime, drug-dealing, and gun control which are also rampant in parts of the UK.
Jacobs disagrees, reiterating that domestic violence is an issue which extensively affects households all over the UK and is not just limited to isolated pockets of heightened criminal activity. She argues that a collaborative ethos amongst regions is crucial to enacting positive widespread change in England’s legislation surrounding domestic abuse.
Seeking Out Aid if You Are a Victim of Domestic Abuse
The increase in domestic abuse in recent years is a concern for men and women alike and it is important for them to know of the resources and support systems that are already in place for victims. UK residents can call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 and visit Women’s Aid or The Mens Advice Line if preferable.
At Grayfords, we are experienced in dealing with cases of domestic violence and understand just how challenging it can be for victims to manage and overcome this abuse. Our expertly trained solicitors have helped many of our clients obtain the support, protection, and justice they needed and deserved.
To find out more, book a free consultation with one of our solicitors today.