The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, has come out and stated a deep concern that fewer perpetrators of domestic abuse are being held accountable for their actions. This is in response to the Crown Prosecution Service latest statistics on the matter. Nicole Jacobs has said that she is deeply concerned to see that fewer perpetrators of domestic abuse are being held accountable for their actions, with the number of convictions for these kinds of offences falling down by almost 15 per cent in the last year. This past year had been an extremely tough time for many victims of domestic abuse across England and Wales. The calls to helplines have remained much higher than they were before the pandemic. Since, the increase in referrals given from the police to Crown Prosecution Service in the last quarter, it is quite unsatisfactory to see that charges have failed by 18 per cent and prosecutions by 9 per cent.
In August 2020, the Government along with the Victims’ Commissioner had called to take an urgent approach and action on the fall of prosecution for rates of domestic abuse cases. Therefore, it is hard to see that in this time, little to no progress had happened in the criminal justice system on holding perpetrators to account.
However, the public interest has significantly increased, as the public are looking to the criminal justice system to take a firm action on perpetrators of domestic abuse as for a long time, victims have failed to be able to see their perpetrators brought to justice. However, a positive to see is that since the Crown Courts have re-opened across the country there has been an improvement in the number of rape convictions in the last year.
When talking about domestic abuse it refers to any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behavior, violence, or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional) between those who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. Family members include mother, father, son, daughter, sister, and grandparents, whether related, in laws or stepfamily. This is not an exhaustive list and may also be extended to uncles, aunts, cousins etc.
In all cases that result in an outcome other than a conviction are allocated a reason explaining why the case failed. In cases with more than one reason applies, the principal reason is selected.
Possible reasons for a case to arrive to an outcome other than a conviction are:
– Acquittals after trial
– Post-charge administrative finalization
– Complainant/ Witness issues
– Disclosure reasons
– Evidential reasons
– Public interest reasons
– Other which applies to cases where: there is a CPS process failure, such as papers or evidence not being served and the court refuses to grant an
adjournment; where a non-conviction outcome comes from either an issue of diplomatic immunity or the deportation or extradition of the defendant or
where no other reason applies.
We will be taking a closer look at what each one of these reasons mean.
Firstly, acquittals after trial, this is when the defendant is found not guilty by the magistrates or jury after a contested hearing in which the defence is called on to present its case.
Secondly, post-charge administrative finalization is when a prosecution cannot proceed forward because a defendant had: (a) failed to appear at court and a Bench Warrant has been issued for his or her arrest, (b) the defendant has died, or found be unfit to plead, (c) where the proceedings are adjourned indefinitely.
Thirdly, witness issues this reason is used when the evident of the complainant/witness supports the case of the prosecution, but one or more of the
(1) The complainant/witness
(a) fails to attend;
(b) refuses to give evidence as a witness;
(c) refuses to give to be called;
(d) withdraws a complaint;
(2) The case includes complainants/witnesses who have been intimated but it is inappropriate to compel them to attend court
(3) if the evidence of the complainant/witness fails to support the prosecution of the defendant including issues of credibility leading to a non-conviction outcome, but the complainant/witness has not retracted.
Fourthly, disclosure reasons identify where an issue with disclosure of unused material has occurred, including timeliness or failure to provide material. When it is disclosure reasons can be disaggregated to provide more detailed analysis of the reason for the non-conviction outcome.
Some examples are:
– D77 Police/Investigator fault including the timeliness and quality of disclosure
– this reason applies when issues arising in the unused material were not dealt with adequately by the investigator, including failure to bring material to
the attention of the prosecutor in a timely way and failing to provide schedules or requested material.
– D78 CPS fault, including timeliness and quality of disclosure – this reason applies when issues arising in the unused material were not dealt with
adequately by the prosecutor, including failure to review material and incorrect decision making on disclosure.
– Fifthly, evidential reasons this will include all other evidential reasons.
– Sixthly, public interest reasons, this one will include all other public interest reasons.
Victims of alleged domestic abuse are seeing a lot of their cases being dropped rather quickly. The time limit to charge common assault – including instances of domestic violence – is six months.
Nearly 13,000 cases have been dropped in England and Wales over five years after the authorities hit that limit. Campaigners have said that women are being denied justice and the police and prosecutors should be given more time.
Three-quarters of all domestic abuse cases – including sexual assaults – are being closed earlier without the suspect being charged, according to a report by HM inspector of constabulary. Domestic violence victims have spoken out about the current UK justice system being just “like the abuse”. Many, victims of domestic abuse feel lost in the system, terrified and helpless.
This suggests that a need for change is necessary to protect them.
If you are looking to obtain a more information on family matters, contact Stalwart Solicitors. We provide 30 minutes free legal advice and can assist you in all aspects of your divorce and matrimonial financial matters. See www.stalwartsolicitors.com and email@example.com.