Violence against women and girls reaches a record number of prosecutions, new figures reveal

Published: 1st July 2015

A new report from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revealed a record number of prosecutions for offences involving violence against women and girls in England and Wales over the last 12 months.

The figures, published in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Report, looks at the number of police referrals, charged defendants, prosecutions and convictions from April to April each year and gives an update on the number of criminal prosecutions for cases that include domestic violence, rape, stalking and harassment, sexual offences, child abuse, forced marriage and honour-based violence.

The report for 2015 has highlighted a record number of defendants prosecuted, with more than 107,000 taking place from April 2014 to April 2015, which has seen an 18% (16,000) increase from the previous year. Likewise, the conviction rate also increased by 16.9%, with 78,773 convictions, compared to 67,380 from the previous year, which is also a record high.

One of the main reasons for the record number of prosecutions and convictions is that victims feel they have the support and confidence to come forward, according to the report. However, the increased number of perpetrators may be down to the increasing use of the internet, which can act as a catalyst for VAWG related crime, with many victims being groomed online by social media, online chat rooms and dating websites.

Prosecutors said that it was common for victims to receive threatening messages and indecent images via the internet, however one positive from online-based abuse is that it is traceable and leaves behind a digital footprint that can be used as evidence by the police.

To tackle the increasing number of crimes that occur online, the CPS are revising their guidance to enable prosecutors to maximise the use of online evidence as well as reminding them that things like restraining orders that are issued in the 'real world' can also be applied online to stop offenders communicating with their victims over the internet.

The report also highlights changes to current legislation that has taken place over the report period, including updates to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for crimes involving sexual grooming and the exploitation of children and updates to the Serious Crime Act 2015 involving cruelty and neglect. The report also includes details of new legislation, for example, an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 involving revenge pornography, which is the new criminal offence of disclosing private sexual photographs and films without the consent of an individual who appears in them and with the intent to cause that individual distress.

Many campaigners and women's charities have backed the report, including the Chief Executive of Women's Aid, Polly Neate, who said that the report showed "significant progress" in bringing cases involving domestic violence in front of the courts.

"This progress must continue until we have a system where women who experience domestic violence have exactly the same level of confidence as victims of other crimes, that they are heard and believed, the system works for them and protects their human right to live free from violence," she said.

The full report can be access online via the Crown Prosecution Service website here.

If you are experiencing domestic violence and you aren't sure what options are available to you then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team of family law specialists are here to listen and advise on the best course of action to take in order to keep you and your family safe.

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