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Domestic Abuse Cases Being Dropped Rapidly

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Victims of alleged domestic abuse are having their cases dropped at an increasing rate.

Statistically, it has been recorded that almost 13,000 cases have been dropped in both England and Wales over the duration of five years, due to the time limit to charge common assault being capped at six months.

Common assault cases consist of instances such as a push, the use of threatening words and being derogatively spoken to.

It has been said that the victims of domestic violence common assault can be unwilling to come forward with their case, and that they can also be complex, which is why police should be given more time to investigate. A government spokesperson stated that any allegation brought forward by a victim should always be pursued where possible.  

It has also been reported that three-quarters of all domestic abuse cases, which include sexual assaults, are dismissed early without the suspect being charged. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary stated that victims are ‘not getting justice’ whilst offenders are allowed to go free. Inspector Zoë Billingham added to this as she quoted “The situation has worsened considerably over the past five years, to the extent that on average the police now decide not to continue to investigate three in every four domestic crimes reported to them.’’

A policing report confirmed that in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, 55% of these cases had been withdrawn due to victims not supporting prosecution, despite suspects having been identified. Although a further 20% of domestic violence cases were closed due to the police finding ‘evidential difficulties’, regardless of the victim supporting the charge. Ms Billingham also stated that, though some police officers went through ‘stringent’ processes prior to closing each case, some police forces allowed inexperienced officers to discontinue investigations without an adequate reasoning ‘’so they can deal with other things.’’

However, recent news has announced that victims are to get more time to report domestic abuse. Priti Patel, Home Secretary, has agreed to extend the timeframe from a small period of six months to two years. Ms Cooper, Labour MP, stated that this practical change enables domestic violence abuse victims ‘’more time to report assault and means stronger action to tackle violence against women and girls.’’