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Nearly half of all domestic abuse cases with a named suspect that were reported to Hertfordshire Police last year were dropped by the victim, according to a report...

Figures have been obtained by law firm Simpson Millar, who spoke to 36 forces across the UK.

In Bedfordshire, the figures were slightly lower at 39 percent.

 

Stats show that one-third of victims refused to press charges and a lack of evidence saw 100,000 cases dropped.

The firms says the research brings to light how frequently women especially find themselves unable to provide evidence, or to support a charge and prosecution due to very real fears about their personal safety, and that of their children. 

Emma Pearmaine, Director of Family Services at Simpson Millar told BOB fm: "We appreciate that there may be variations in how crimes are recorded and processed across regions, and that a crime recorded as taking place one year, might be recorded as having concluded another.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that a significant number of domestic violence crimes do not result in a charge; often due to a lack of evidence or a lack of support from the victim who may feel unable to provide this kind of support".

Emma continued: "Victims, and women especially, are often either unable to provide evidence about their abuse, or decide to withdraw what evidence they have presented, because they feel coming forward will put themselves, their children and family members at significant risk of serious harm. 

More resources are needed to identify alternative avenues of collecting evidence and building a case against abusers without putting the victim at risk. This is a challenge, I know, but one which must be addressed in the face of these latest figures"

Victims of domestic violence live in an intricate and harrowing matrix of lies and fear, which they often cannot escape from without help from the Police and other professionals. 

Officers who deal with domestic abuse have a challenging job; these crimes are complex, sometimes subtle and often difficult to identify. Domestic violence crimes come in many shades and these figures tell us that more resources and more training for officers is required so that additional crimes result in a formal charge".

Emma added: "The first formal accusation of domestic violence is rarely the first incidence. Victims of domestic abuse may have found the courage to come forward in a moment of confidence, but their fears about their on-going safety may leave them in a position where they no longer want to support a complaint. It requires a professional and targeted effort to help them through the days, weeks and months that follow. 

Victims who live with their abuser are particularly vulnerable and at risk of further harm after they have reported the violence. All victims need a huge amount of practical and emotional support to maintain the accusation through to a prosecution.

Victims need help and support to ensure they are able to see a way forward, but also to guarantee their personal safety and that of their children. All too often, women simply do not feel safe enough to leave despite having had the courage to make a true and recognised accusation to the Police. In the very worst cases, they lose their life to their abuser".

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, said: "We know that not all survivors of domestic abuse want a criminal justice outcome. However, what these figures show is that, for those who do, there is still a very real culture of victim-blaming and fear that stops survivors from accessing justice.  

We also know that there is a significantly heightened risk for women in the first year after separation from a perpetrator - therefore, robust support and protection is needed during that time.

With two women a week on average being killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales, it is vital that we take these findings seriously".
 

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