Rape conviction rates in the UK are at the lowest levels since records began

Women’s groups including The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) are highlighting the news yesterday that rape conviction rates by the CPS in the UK are the lowest they have been since records began.

Despite a huge rise in reports of rape in recent years the CPS is showing a reduction in the number of convicted rape cases overall. The CPS decisions to prosecute on rape have fallen by over 51% in 5 years. There has been a drop of 37.7% of rape cases charged by the CPS last year (this includes a drop from 2,822 in 2017/8 to 1,758 in 2018/9).

The CPS have blamed falling police referrals but the CPS decisions to not prosecute are almost double the rate of the police referrals to the CPS -51% compared to -27%. As a response to this EVAW has sent a detailed letter threatening legal action against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in June this year, indicating the CPS is essentially changing its policy and practice in relation to rape cases and a dramatic fall in rape cases being charged has been the result.

Harriet Wistrich, Director of Centre for Women’s Justice commented

‘The CPS have repeatedly denied that they have changed their approach to the prosecution of rape. They have variously blamed the fall in the number of cases prosecuted on the delays caused by disclosure demand post the Liam Allen case, and on the police for failure to progress and refer cases. However, we have gathered evidence from a variety of significant sources which taken together provide a compelling picture that the primary cause of this collapse in prosecutions emanates from a deliberate change in the approach taken by the CPS dating back to late 2016.’

You can read more about conviction rates here

and in a Guardian article here

UK charity Refuge launches short film highlighting children witnessing domestic violence

Refuge the UK domestic violence charity have launched a video highlighting that 90% of domestic abuse happens in the presence of children. They also identify that

  • In 41% of cases of partner abuse there was at least one child under the age of 16 living in the household
  • Of the 6,500 survivors of abuse that Refuge supports every day, around 3,500 are children

Refuge has partnered with Picturehouse cinemas to show a powerful 60 second short film called ‘Hide and Seek’, it is being shown in 25 Picturehouse cinemas across the UK.

You can access this short film  here.

Mental health blamed for 18 year old woman being murdered by her partner








An 18 year old woman Natasha Hill was stabbed 53 times and murdered by her partner in Greenwich, her partner Scott Clifford was sentenced this week to 18 years in prison. Her family had been concerned for some time about his controlling behaviour and that he would kill her. The judge added that Natasha would have suffered ‘extreme pain’ during the assault, because of a single ‘prolonged’ attack or because she woke up briefly after he fractured her skull. The attack occurred after Scott had been drinking all day and when the ambulance staff arrived he pretended she had fallen down the stairs drunk.

The trial also heard how Clifford in 2012 had attacked his ex-girlfriend Michelle Bateman, she gave evidence that he had jumped on her and punched her multiple times and described how afterwards he blamed his violence on  a split personality and alter-ego called ‘Ronnie’. You can read more about the case here.


Review examining alcohol and Intimate partner violence

A Rapid review by Alcohol Change UK examining the role of alcohol in contributing to intimate partner violence (IPV) has just been published. You can access the review here.  

The review was written by Ms Lisa Jones, Ms Hannah Grey, Ms Nadia Butler, Dr Zara Quigg and Professor Harry Sumnall, (Liverpool John Moores University), and Dr Gail Gilchrist, (King’s College London). It highlights the need for interventions to address IPV perpetration by men accessing treatment for alcohol use. This is the focus of a NIHR funded research programme, ADVANCE led by Gail Gilchrist, one of co-authors.

A further blog post by the Alcohol review team can be found here. 



New research exploring practitioners’ experiences of supporting women


New qualitative research has just been published by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience exploring UK practitioners experiences of supporting women with co-occurring histories of interpersonal abuse, PTSD symptoms and substance use. Based on a sample of 14 practitioners based in substance use, mental health, criminal justice and domestic/sexual violence sectors.The aim of this study was to explore how services in England have developed practice responses with limited historical precedence for this work.

Three key interlinking themes were identified: practitioners’ philosophical approach; tailored clinical practice, and system responsiveness. Analyses identified the importance of relational, non-pathologising practice, extensive focus on physical and emotional safety, and cautionary approaches towards using trauma-specific treatments involving trauma disclosure. Challenges included poor service integration, time-limited treatments and tokenistic trauma informed practice.

You can access this article here.


Lords speech by Baroness Newlove highlights the cost of domestic violence

Baroness Newlove (the former Victim’s commissioner) gave a speech in the House of Lords earlier this summer focusing on domestic violence. She highlighted the British Crime Survey results indicating  ‘2 million people were victims of domestic abuse, with women twice as likely to be victims as men’. Her speech further focused upon the estimated annual cost of domestic abuse citing £66 billion, ‘with an average cost for a victim of being over £34,000.’ Her speech then moved onto unconditional police bail and how this practice leads to an increased risk for victims. She concluded by calling for more funding for domestic violence services which she describes as ‘threadbare’.  She believes part of the focus should be funding professionally trained workers who are then able to protect vulnerable victims more successfully.

Baroness Armstrong responded to her speech by further highlighting that many victims have complex needs such as addiction, homelessness and mental health problems due to a lifelong experiences of abuse, neglect and violence. She calls for an improvement and understanding of how to work with these victims. Feedback from victims of domestic violence gave a strong message that the first front line workers victims speak to must recognise abuse and trauma.

Find out more about this debate here.

Paper published in BMJ on alcohol-related harm to others


A paper recently published in BMJ Open reported on the harm caused by alcohol to people other than the drinker. This national survey of almost 5000 adults across England examined the extent, type and frequency of harms associated with other people’s drinking as well as identifying who was most likely to be the victim and perpetrator of harm. This was the largest ever survey of its kind in the UK. The study showed that one in five adults reported harm from another’s drinking in the previous 12 months. Of concern, almost one in twenty people said they had experienced at least one aggressive harm in the previous year which was related to someone who had been drinking (3.4% of respondents said they had felt physically threatened, 1.9% said they had been physically assaulted and 0.7% said they had been forced or pressurised into something sexual). While friends and strangers were the people that caused almost half of all alcohol-related harms, the person causing harm varied depending on the type of harm. Strangers were most likely to be the perpetrators of physical threats and physical assaults. One in five (19%) people who were forced or pressured into something sexual said this was by a stranger, but 23% said this was by a partner they lived with, increasing to almost 40% when partners who lived elsewhere were included.


You can access the paper here.

ADVANCE paper published – The Dynamics of Domestic Abuse and Drug and Alcohol Dependency

A paper in the British Journal of Criminology has just been published from the ADVANCE programme grant (first author Professor David Gadd). The article focuses on the dynamics that occur in relationships where there have been both substance use and domestic abuse. It draws on in-depth qualitative interviews with male perpetrators and their current or former partners. The analysis section highlights different ways in which domestic abuse is compounded for women who have a. not been substance use dependent b. were formerly dependent or c. are currently dependent. The article additionally explores the criminological implications of competing models of change deployed in drug treatment and domestic violence interventions while discussing the policy and practice challenges.

You can access the paper here.

Free seminar in London addressing substance use and trauma for women

Practitioners working in substance misuse services are invited to attend a free seminar on the 18 June to discuss treatment responses for women with trauma symptoms and problematic substance use. The seminar will be held in London, in conjunction with Against Violence and Abuse and King’s College London. More details of speakers and booking can be found here.

Among the speakers will be Karen Bailey who has just completed her PhD at King’s College London. She will discuss her study, which was the first of its kind in the UK to assess the feasibility of delivering an international evidence-based group work programme aimed at women with PTSD symptoms and problematic substance use.

The feasibility study involved 2 cycles of a 12-session group of Seeking Safety delivered twice weekly with two facilitators. The study aimed to answer uncertainties about delivering the  programme in a UK substance misuse service:

  • Could women be retained in the group and study?
  • Did participants and facilitators find the material and group structure acceptable and feasible?
  • Were the facilitators able to deliver the manual as anticipated?
  • What service and environmental factors impacted on the group delivery and women’s recovery?

Come along and hear more about the findings of Karen’s study,  and hear from other speakers from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, Against Violence and Abuse, and Women and Girl’s Network.



Tenerife resident accused of murdering his wife and son

A German man who is a resident of Tenerife has been accused of murdering his wife and 10 year old son in a cave near Adeje.  The bodies of the woman and child were discovered on Wednesday after hikers found a 5-year-old boy who said his father had taken the family to a cave and attacked them.  Early reports suggest the woman and her 10 year old son were beaten to death.

The father responded violently to the arrest and refused to reveal the location of the rest of his family members, according El Pais newspaper.

Local officials are treating the deaths as a domestic violence case and a local court that specialises in crimes against women has taken charge of the investigation. The Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez commented on the murders saying

‘“The worst news arrives from Adeje (Tenerife). A woman and her son have been killed. Again the #ViolenciaMachista [gendered violence] hits double. A son of the couple managed to escape. All my love for him, for his family and loved ones. We have to end this.”

He has made women’s rights a key campaign topic for the general election this month. More than 990 women have been killed by their partners or former partners since 2003, when official Spanish records on such killings began. Deputy Prime Minister Calvo said 18 women had been murdered by partners or ex-partners so far this year. She condemned the Adeje case, saying “we must stop criminal machismo”.

You can access more about this case here.