CONVICTIONS for domestic violence are at their highest ever, new research has shown.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders told the Women’s Aid national conference 58,276 people were convicted in 2013-14, almost three quarters (74.6 per cent), of all prosecutions for that period.
National DPP figures showed the highest ever conviction rate for violence against women and girls, at 74.4 per cent, and an increase of 11 per cent in the number of defendants charged since 2012-13.
Yorkshire’s Crown Prosecution Service figures showed in 2012-13, 585 people were prosecuted, with 451 convicted (77.1 per cent), while in 2013-14, 695 prosecutions led to 550 convictions (79.1 per cent).
Conviction rates at York Magistrates’ have risen by five per cent to 74.2 per cent, at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court by almost four per cent to 76.3 per cent, and Scarborough Magistrates’ Court by one per cent to 88.6 per cent. The conviction rate by York Crown Court has fallen from 81.7 per cent to 80.8 per cent, but remains higher than the national average.
Gerry Wareham, deputy chief crown prosecutor for North and West Yorkshire, said: “In North Yorkshire we have consistently achieved conviction rates significantly higher than the national trend.
“The continuing improvement this year is all the more pleasing when you take into consideration that we prosecuted more cases than the previous year. Specialist prosecutors have worked hard with colleagues in the police and support agencies to ensure we deliver the best service we can to the victims and their joint commitment is reflected in the results achieved.”
Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson welcomed the improvement but said: “Behind every conviction, there is a victim who has suffered and has taken what is often a difficult step in coming forward to report the abuse. Both North Yorkshire Police and our domestic abuse partners are continuously striving to improve the service we provides to victims which is wide-ranging, encompassing support, refuge, accommodation, safety planning as well as guiding them through the legal process.”
More than £300,000 has been secured to support victims of crime and domestic violence in North Yorkshire, provide counselling and therapies, and offer support to frequently-targeted victims of violence, hate crime and antisocial behaviour.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, who bid for the Ministry of Justice funding said it would help more victims come to terms with their experiences and start recovering.
“The number of people coming forward to report these sorts of crimes has risen yet “Until now there has been no secure, dedicated funding for this specific area of work,” she said. As part of my Police and Crime Plan, I am committing to do more to address domestic and sexual violence and combat repeat victimisation. This announcement is another important step towards those aims.”
Detective Sergeant Heather Pearson of North Yorkshire Police welcomed the announcement.
She said: “This, alongside other, national improvements such as the introduction of the Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme will improve the response to victims of abuse even more.
“The most important thing for us, is that victims have the courage and confidence to come forward and get the help they need. I hope the increased conviction rates and improved services encourage more victims to make that important, life-changing step.”