Alison Saunders, the Director of the Crown Prosecution has today reported that the conviction rate for domestic violence related cases has reached it’s highest ever level. These sorts of cases now make up 10.7% of the CPS’ workload.
In terms of real figures, there was an increase in the amount of referrals to the Police by 15,459 bringing the total referrals in 2012/2013 to 103,569. In total, 72,905 cases were brought to trial as opposed to 60,000 the previous year. 74.6 of those prosecuted in the same year were convicted. (figures from the Guardian Website)
It is clear from the increase in the amount of referrals that victims may finally feel as though people will listen to them and may be more aware of their rights. Equally, the increased conviction rate shows that, maybe, the investigations are more thorough, and the criminal courts are taking matters more seriously. This is of course welcomed news.
What it does not address however is what happens to those complainants who make complaints to the police but which are never taken to trial. Allowances have to be given for those matters which are resolved without the need for proceedings and for those few cases where the complaint was just vexatious. But it would be hard to imagine that 30664 complaints were either vexatious or resolved. It seems likely that the majority of those complaints were probably discontinued through lack of evidence.
So where does that leave those victims? …falling through a very large metaphorical hole which has been opened by the restrictions placed on the availability of legal aid in family cases, is where! Help may of course be available through the Family Courts to those who cannot get assistance from the Police, but many cannot afford to pay privately for lawyers. And if they cannot get legal aid and do not know what rights they have, where does that leave them? Watch this space…