Domestic violence convictions fall in West Midlands

Hundreds fewer people are being convicted for domestic violence in the West Midlands each year, new figures have shown.

And shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has told the Express & Star she wants police forces to publish their performance figures on domestic abuse and sexual violence to get more abusive partners behind bars.

The official crime statistics show a drop both in the number of reports of domestic violence and in successful prosecutions in the West Midlands since 2010. In Staffordshire the number of reports and convictions has increased while in West Mercia the number of reports dropped but convictions went up.

Last year 27,853 cases were reported to West Midlands Police but just 2,570 people were convicted in the same year. That compared with 3,168 convictions from 46,829 reports in 2009/10.

In Staffordshire in 2009/10 there were 12,577 domestic violence reports and 1,019 convictions.

By last year there were 14,672 reports and 1,033 convictions.

West Mercia had 15,606 reports and 810 in 2009/10 and last year there were 15,504 reports and 894 convictions.

Rape convictions in Staffordshire have dropped from 20.8 per cent of cases in 2008/9 to 15.8 per cent last year.

In the West Midlands the conviction rate for rape cases reported in the same year has gone up from 16.6 per cent in 2008/9 to 29.9 per cent and in West Mercia it has dropped from 12.4 per cent to 10.3 per cent.

Labour has said if it wins next year's general election it will introduce a Violence against Women and Girls Commissioner to work with police forces whose performance is poor and support victims.

The party says that nationally domestic violence crimes are increasing, but that fewer cases are being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and there are fewer convictions.

There were 838,000 reports of domestic abuse in 2012/13 – only six per cent resulted in a conviction.

Ms Cooper said: “The scale of domestic abuse is shocking. The Government and the Home Secretary have turned their backs on this issue. Support and justice for victims is getting worse not better as a result of their failure.

“In the West Midlands last year, over 27,853 incidents were reported to the police. But prosecutions have fallen by 13 per cent and convictions are down by almost nine per cent.

“West Midlands Police have done a lot of work to tackle domestic violence. But there is a national problem with falling prosecutions. We need national standards in place.

"There has been an appalling lack of leadership from Theresa May. Why has so little been done to investigate this drop? The Home Secretary is failing to make ending violence against women a priority for the criminal justice system and the clock is being turned backwards as a result.

“For too long, this has been considered a marginal issue. But domestic abuse now accounts for one in five violent crimes committed across the country. Two million victims are affected every year; it puts lives at risk, scars children and destroys families.

“The Government need to wake up to the urgency of this situation. Theresa May must act and stop turning her back on the hidden crime and forgotten victims of domestic abuse.”

The coalition government says it has been making improvements.

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: "More victims are coming forward to talk about rape and domestic violence and I am determined to improve the response at every point in the criminal justice system to address these horrific and inexcusable acts.

"There have already been improvements – sentences for rapists are increasing and the latest data from the Crown Prosecution Service shows the highest ever conviction rate for violence against women and girls.

"The coalition government has commissioned Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to investigate how all police forces in England and Wales respond to domestic abuse. I have also held discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions, who has agreed to establish a CPS-police scrutiny panel to look at how forces deal with rape."