Annual Violence against Women and Girls report published

|News, Domestic abuse , Violent crime , Sexual offences

Latest figures on prosecutions involving Violence against Women and Girls crimes (VAWG) have been released today 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 our 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.

Headline figures from the report are below.

VAWG overall

  • VAWG data - which covers domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences - has fallen over the past year.
  • Referrals from the police have dropped by 0.7%, prosecutions completed by 5.9% and convictions by 4.9%.
  • This is in the context of a fall in total CPS volumes, with a 10% drop in the numbers of cases prosecuted in 2017-18.  

Domestic abuse

  • Good progress is being made in domestic abuse, with 960 cases of coercive and controlling behaviour charged, alongside a marked slowdown in the fall of police referrals seen in previous years.
  • In 2017-18, more than three out of every four defendants in domestic abuse cases were convicted.  
  • In 2017-18 the CPS has worked across the criminal justice system in a ‘deep dive’ project, testing best practice for use in cases in magistrates’ courts. The final best practice framework, outlining four components, has been approved for national roll-out in 2018–19.
  • CPS was also involved in proposals for future domestic abuse legislation and the development of non-legislative measures across government. Consultation carried out in early 2018-19 is currently being considered across government departments.

Stalking and harassment

  • In 2017-18, 1,616 prosecutions were started for stalking offences, up from 959 in 2016-17, an increase of 68.5 per cent.
  • This is a significant rise and highlights the positive impact of ongoing work between the CPS and police to improve the recognition, investigation and prosecution of stalking.
  • Over 17,000 prosecutions were begun for breaches of restraining orders, the highest volume ever recorded.

Rape and other sexual offences (RASSO)

  • 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.
  • We are working with the police to drive improvements in case quality at early stages and will engage with young people and youth experts in the coming months to help prosecutors improve their understanding of the impact that advancing technology – like mobile phone data - may be having on prosecutions.
  • Significant work is also underway as part of the joint CPS and police National Disclosure Improvement Plan, alongside improved training and guidance for prosecutors.
  • The National Disclosure Improvement Plan was developed to improve performance on disclosure in January 2018. Following the publication of the findings from a review of all live RASSO cases in June 2018 a guide to reasonable lines of enquiry and communications was published for prosecutors.

Notes to editors

  • The VAWG strategy covers a range of offences, including domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, rape, sexual offences, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence, female genital mutilation, child abuse, human trafficking for sexual exploitation, prostitution and pornography.  These crimes have been grouped together under the heading ‘VAWG’, recognising that they have been committed primarily, but not exclusively, by men against women; with a disproportionate volume of female victims. However, the report also includes offending against men and boys, providing total data on all perpetrators and victims, irrespective of gender.
  • The majority of prosecutions of crimes grouped under VAWG, for performance management purposes, are DA at 84.4%, with rape at 4.3% and sexual offences, excluding rape, at 11.4%.
  • Data contained in the VAWG report in relation to domestic abuse, rape, child abuse, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence, modern slavery and human trafficking is flag-based. Flags are applied to these cases at the pre-charge stage, where an allegation has been made, regardless of the final offence convicted. The flags will remain in place, even if the decision is taken to charge an offence other than that initially referred or where a charge is subsequently amended, to ensure application of the principles of relevant policies.  The measurement of convictions by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the CPS are different and are used for different purposes. The differences are explained within the report.
  • The CPS collects data for case management purposes in order to assist in the effective management of its prosecution functions. The CPS does not collect data which constitutes official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. The official statistics relating to crime and policing are maintained by the Home Office and the official statistics relating to sentencing, criminal court proceedings, offenders brought to justice, the courts and the judiciary are maintained by the Ministry of Justice.

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