Annual Violence against Women and Girls report published

By Agencies
September 27, 2018

Latest figures on prosecutions involving Violence against Women and Girls crimes (VAWG) have been released by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The annual VAWG report, which is now in its eleventh year, covers a broad range of offences including domestic abuse, rape, stalking and sexual abuse. In 2017-18, the CPS brought more than 100,000 prosecutions of this type, a fifth of the total caseload.

Overall, the data shows a decrease in the number of VAWG cases. Referrals from the police have dropped by 0.7 per cent, the number of completed prosecutions has reduced by 5.9 per cent and the number of convictions by 4.9 per cent.

The number of referrals, prosecutions and convictions for rape-flagged cases has fallen, with a 9.1 per cent fall in referrals from the police and a 23.1 per cent fall in the number of suspects charged.

This is in the context of a fall in total CPS caseload, with a 10 per cent drop in the numbers of cases of all crime types prosecuted last year.  

However, the report shows significant increases related to stalking and modern slavery offences.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Crimes of violence against women and girls continue to make up a fifth of the CPS case load. Our focus is on making sure the right person is prosecuted for the right offence, and bringing offenders to justice wherever possible.

“VAWG cases, in particular rape and serious sexual offences, are among the most complex we deal with. Over the past decade, the CPS and the police have undertaken extensive work to address the particular challenges involved. This includes training our specialist prosecutors to understand victim vulnerabilities and the impact of rape, as well as consent, myths and stereotypes, and the difficulties of cases involving young people.

“Our priority is to continue to work with the police, to bring strong cases and respond to challenges such as the substantial increase in digital evidence that is now a common feature of these cases. As ever, prosecutors must make their decisions after testing whether the evidence provides a realistic prospect of conviction, and that it is in the public interest.”

The annual VAWG report was first published in 2008 as part of a strategy to improve the prosecution of these crimes, along with the support offered to victims within the criminal justice process.

The VAWG report provides an assessment of crimes that are committed primarily, but not exclusively, by men against women in line with United Nations conventions. It also includes data on offences targeted towards men and boys.

Commenting on the statistics, domestic abuse charity Refuge said, "Today’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ report reflects a mixed bag of results in terms of delivering justice for the victims of these devastating crimes.

"While the increase in police referrals and CPS prosecutions of coercive control, stalking and breaches of restraining orders is clearly welcome progress, the fall in the number of rape referrals and charges is especially alarming for Refuge."

Refuge Chief Executive Sandra Horley said: “A drop in rape charges of 23 per cent in one year is of huge concern to Refuge at a time when reports to police are actually on the increase. We urge an immediate review of this shocking decline.

“It takes a huge amount of courage for women to give evidence against their abuser. It is crucial that victims feel protected by having the full weight of the law behind them. The CPS needs to step up its work to prosecute more perpetrators of violence against women and girls offences.”

* The Violence Against Women and Girls report and supporting documents are available to download here

* Crown Prosecution Service https://www.cps.gov.uk/

* Refuge https://www.refuge.org.uk/

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