DOMESTIC abuse remains a pressing issue that demands everyone’s urgent attention. The most recent figures reveal that a staggering 1.6m women aged 16 to 74 have experienced domestic abuse as some point in their lives and tragically two women are brutally killed by their partners or ex-partners every week.

Shockingly, 92 per cent of these women are killed by men and the number of homicides is at its highest level in 15 years.

Sadly, domestic abuse accounts for 17 per cent of all reported crime, and on average the police receive a domestic abuse-related call every 30 seconds. However, we know this is only the tip of the iceberg as it is estimated that only one-in-four domestic abuse crimes is reported to the police. This significant underreporting may be due to fear, stigma, or lack of trust in the justice system.

The crisis doesn’t end there.

An alarming number of cases are collapsing within the criminal proceedings, with a staggering 1.6m cases collapsing last year alone. Crime detection rates have plummeted from 28 per cent to a mere 11 per cent. Last year only 6.8 per cent of these domestic abuse reports resulted in a charge. These failures not only undermine justice but also perpetuate a cycle of victimisation. We must address these failures head-on and I am placing the fight against violence against women and girls at the forefront of my agenda.

These statistics are a stark reminder that women and girls are not feeling safe in their own homes, on the streets, or within their communities. This reality is unacceptable and underpins why we are working together locally, regionally and nationally to prevent these crimes and give victims of domestic abuse the confidence to report crime and seek help and support.

Under the previous government, reducing domestic abuse and sexual offences decreased by one-third. However, the criminal justice system is now teetering on the brink of collapse. We now have fewer courts, meaning longer and more costly journeys for victims and witnesses, fewer police officers, fewer experienced probation officers (lost through the failed privatisation of the probation service), and understaffed prisons that struggle and are almost full to capacity. All of which has a detrimental impact on adequately supporting and protecting women experiencing domestic abuse.

This was flagged recently by Nicole Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner, who criticised ministers for not doing enough to protect women following their decision to lift the pressures on overcrowded prisons by scrapping short prison sentences saying the probation service “did not have the capacity to properly advise judges and magistrates on the dangers posed by perpetrators of domestic violence”.

Locally, we have been working towards creating an environment where victims feel safe and empowered to seek help, so they know where and who to turn to if they feel they are not being supported or feel they have been let down.

Victims’ testimonials and their lived experience of the criminal justice system are helping us to improve victim support and services. Their valuable insights will help us to ensure more perpetrators are held to account for their crimes.

By working together, we can create a society where domestic abuse is not tolerated, individuals can live free from fear and violence and perpetrators know they will be held responsible for their actions.

  • Joy Allen is the Labour Durham Police & Crime Commissioner