Press Release

19 March 2021

Refuge responds to ONS Crime Survey

Responding to the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales, Lisa King, Refuge director of communications and external relations said:

‘These statistics are extremely concerning and should offer a sharp wake-up call to government as violence against women and girls remains firmly in the spotlight. This data shows that, in the year ending March 2020, there were almost four times as many female victims of sexual assault than male victims, with female victims comprising 84% of sexual offences recorded by the police. As we know, rape and sexual violence is a common tool used by perpetrators of domestic abuse, and this is reflected in four out of ten cases of rape and sexual assault by penetration being perpetrated by the victim’s current or ex-partner.

The criminal justice response to sexual offences must be fit for purpose and must support survivors to access justice. The data shows that fewer than one in six female victims (aged 16-59) of rape or sexual assault by penetration reported these crimes to police in the year ending March 2020. Over a third of victims who did not report to the police stated that it was because they did not think the police could help. A lack of confidence in the criminal justice system is not surprising when, in 2018/19, referrals of rape suspects from the police to the CPS fell by 23% and conviction rates in rape cases fell by 27%.

The time for change is now. Women who have experienced rape and other sexual offences need a criminal justice system that encourages them to report the crimes committed against them and provides them with specialist support as they pursue a conviction against their perpetrator. Refuge has long called for sweeping reform of the criminal justice system, and this is more urgent now than ever before.


Notes to Editors

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About Refuge:

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 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.