The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has just announced improved conviction figures for the years 2008 to 2012, regarding crimes that involve violence against women in England and Wales.
BBC News reports that prosecutions and convictions for crimes of violence against females have risen by 15,000 over the four years; and in the last year alone there were 91,000 prosecutions and 67,000 convictions.
The CPS believes its ‘Violence against Women and Girls Strategy’ is making a difference to the way prosecutors handle this type of crime, including domestic violence, rape, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The strategy involved specialist training on domestic violence for 3,000 prosecutors, 800 specialising in rape cases, and the new approach being promoted by selected chief prosecutors for the regions.
The CPS also provided clearer guidance so prosecutors might better understand the motives that prompt some women to withdraw their complaint or drop out of a court case.
Consequently, the CPS has been able to produce stronger cases against defendants, according to the Guardian, which has meant more guilty pleas. This spares women the trauma of giving evidence against their attacker.
Thus, guilty pleas have increased from 60% to 66% for all cases of violence against women, and from 35% to 40% for rape cases.
However, there is still a long way to go.
Recent statistics from the British Crime Survey reveal that only about one in four people who suffer domestic abuse, and only around one in 10 women who experience rape, alert the police.
According to the Guardian, Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Victim Support, points out that the charity: “helps women move on from the trauma of violence every day – often when they have not reported the crime to the police because of fear, or lack of confidence in the justice system itself”.
Violence against women is not just a problem for prosecutors; society needs further education concerning this insidious problem, alongside the continuing development of a support strategy by the justice system that operates with empathy for the fear and stigma experienced by victims.