NEWS
13/02/2014 10:33 GMT | Updated 13/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Domestic Violence Crimes Up By 30% In Last Year, Figures Show

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 photo Mica, a Serbian woman who killed her husband after 30 years of abuse, wipes her eyes during a prison interview with The Associated Press in a women's prison in Pozarevac, 60 kilometers east of Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia is in the grips of a crisis of domestic violence that experts say is being fed by chronic poverty, the trauma of wartime atrocities and a culture where brutality against women is traditionally hushed up. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The number of domestic violence crimes reported in the UK has increased almost 30% in the past 12 months, official figures have revealed.

There were 398,000 incidents of domestic violence in 2012/13, compared to 308,000 in the previous year, figures compiled by the Crime Survey for England and Wales have shown.

It is the highest number of recorded incidents in six years and is inclusive of all adults aged 16 and over in England and Wales.

Sandra Horley, CEO of national domestic violence charity, Refuge, told HuffPost UK: "Domestic violence is still very much a hidden crime: the truth is that the vast majority of victims still do not report their experiences.

"Every week two women are killed by current or former partners in England and Wales. Refuge supports 3,000 women and children on any given day, and the demand on our services is relentless.

“Our refuges are full to bursting - finding a space in a refuge is like finding gold dust."

Although the findings reveal a spike in domestic abuse over the past year, the figures are much lower than those compiled in 1993 when over one million reports were recorded.

Figures are representative of face-to-face interviews conducted by CSEW while data collected from self-completion forms revealed 7.1% of women and 4.4% of men were said to have experienced domestic violence in 2012/13.

Percentages are equivalent to an estimated 1.2m female victims and 700,000 male victims in England and Wales.

The report also revealed that 30% of women and 16% of men have experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16.

Women are more likely to have suffered abuse on more than one occasion but the level of repeat victimisation is not statistically significant between men and women.

However, statistics show that only 21% of victims of partner abuse actually reported it in 2012/13, and Horley believes that for many abuse victims there is a “lack of confidence in the criminal justice system.”

“One of the reasons why women are so reluctant to come forward to report abuse is that they lack confidence in the criminal justice system. The police and other state agencies still fail to provide an adequate response to vulnerable and terrified victims,” she said.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said “the government is letting down victims of domestic abuse.”

"The scale of police cuts mean specialist domestic violence units have been disbanded.

"Changes to legal aid have made it harder for victims to take out injunctions against their abusers and cuts to local authority budgets mean local support services are under serious strain.

"This Government is letting down victims of domestic abuse. We cannot continue to ignore this problem," Mrs Cooper said.

Refuge is seeking greater transparency from the government and is calling on the Coalition to open a public inquiry into police responses to domestic violence.

“Refuge is calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the response of the police and other state agencies to domestic violence.

“We must restore faith in our criminal justice system and ensure that women and children are given the support and protection they need,” she concluded.

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