Press Release

15 October 2021

Refuge responds to new BBC FOI request data on women being timed out of justice

Refuge responds to new BBC FOI request data on women being timed out of justice

Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO, said:

“Refuge is grateful to the BBC for shining a light on the issue of the common assault six-month time limit in cases of domestic abuse. It is wholly unacceptable that we have seen a 159% increase in cases failing because of the six-month time limit from 2016-17 to 2020-21, while assaults flagged as instances of domestic abuse have increased by 71%.

This is incredibly concerning, yet sadly, these statistics don’t come as a surprise. Refuge knows of the many barriers that women face when reporting domestic abuse to the police. It can take many months and a lot of courage for women to feel able to come forward, yet many will never see justice being served. Women are being timed out of access to justice, and that is neither fair nor acceptable.

Police forces across the country are routinely failing women. Dismissive attitudes and delays to investigations are common. That’s why Refuge is campaigning for the common assault charging time-limit to be extended. Refuge wants to see a change to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would extend the length of time survivors have to report incidents of common assault to the police from the current six months to a maximum of 18 months. This would enable many more women to have access to the justice and protection they need and deserve.”

Erica Osakwe, founder of campaigning organisation Victims Too and survivor of domestic abuse, said:

“Coming forward to the police about the abuse I experienced was an extremely difficult thing to do, made even harder by the response I received. My case was mishandled and delayed from the beginning, resulting in no charge being brought against my abuser. Nor did the police refer me for additional support to an organisation like Refuge, or even inform me that support is out there. The experience made me feel like my story wasn’t valid, like the police didn’t believe I was a victim.”


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 support with tech abuse visit

For more information contact