Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service report and additional funding
Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service quarterly report and news of additional funding for courts over the next year
Cordelia Tucker O’Sullivan, Refuge senior policy and public affairs manager said: “Refuge welcomes the news that the limit of working days for Crown Courts has been lifted for the next financial year. The increased budget for courts over the next year is a necessary step to tackle the backlog of cases that has been exacerbated by the past year and that leaves survivors of domestic abuse in a state of limbo as they await justice. However, this funding provides only a sticking plaster solution – the court system needs sustained, increased funding to truly tackle this issue, including opening more courts to tackle the enormous backlog of cases.
The huge delays to trials that survivors of domestic abuse have been faced with over the past year are likely to have had a severe impact on safety and also their mental health and ability to move on after abuse. Delays increase the likelihood that survivors will drop out of the criminal justice process.
It is of the utmost importance that the Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) urgently invest the resources needed to ensure that survivors are not left awaiting justice for months or even years, while potentially dangerous perpetrators are free to continue their abuse while waiting for trial.
Refuge is also extremely concerned to see new data released by the CPS which paints the picture of ongoing low prosecution and conviction rates for domestic abuse and rape cases; yet this comes in the context of a spike in numbers of women reaching out for support from Refuge’s specialist services.
The criminal justice system needs wholesale reform if it is adequately to do its job in protecting survivors of abuse and holding perpetrators to account.”
Notes to editors
- Despite police referrals to the CPS for domestic abuse offences staying relatively stable over the past year compared to the previous year, the number of suspects charged fell 8%.
- Convictions in cases of both domestic abuse and rape offences have fallen by 15.8% and 31.75% respectively for this year compared to last. This will be at least in part due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.
- Calls and contacts logged on Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline rose by an average of 61% between April 2020 and February 2021
- Refuge would like to see investment in specialist support services for domestic abuse and sexual violence which have faced a funding cliff-edge over the last decade.
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Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.