In late November 2008 and early 2009, statistics of recorded incidents of domestic related non-sexual violence against the person (VAP) during the year 2007/08 were sought by Dewar Research from 11 police forces in England and Wales. The forces were selected to provide a representative sample of both county and metropolitan areas. Useful information was provided by nine of these forces, and is the subject of this summary report. The estimated (mid 2006) total population of these force areas was 21.5 million, representing just over 40% of the total population served by police forces in England and Wales.
The overall results revealed no real surprises, and generally confirmed those published by other contemporary sources. However, details and review of the information may still be of interest to those keenly following the issue of domestic violence, and are thus given in this report.
The information sought from forces included a breakdown by sex, ethnicity, age, and category of offence, for victims and for accused, and details of arrests and disposal of cases. Some of the nine forces responding were unable to provide the full range of such information, and others some information not in the form requested. However, the range of the information provided was sufficient to yield a useful picture of police reporting of domestic related violence against the person in 2007/08.
Domestic related violence against the person was intended to reflect violence in a domestic setting, such as family and partner violence or abuse. Generally, the police responses followed this, although only three forces provided separate statistics for family and partner/ex-partner non-sexual violence or abuse. Some forces also included statistics relating to violence or abuse outside the domestic setting, such as harassment, and, in one case, violence in the workplace. Such information was excluded from the review.
The responding police forces are not identified in this review but are given the references F1 to F9.
Prevalence of victims:
The prevalence of non-sexual domestic violence is given in Figure 1 for the nine forces responding expressed as the ratio of the numbers of victims recorded by the police per thousand population in the force area.
Corresponding ratios for male victims ranged from 1.3 (F6) to 2.02 (F8) and from 5.15 (F6) to 9.09 (F8) for female victims.
Sex of victims:
The proportions of victims by sex are shown on Figure 2.
Proportions of male victims of non-sexual domestic violence ranged from 13.4% (F3) to 21.9% (F2) of total victims. The corresponding proportions of female victims ranged from 78.1% (F2) to 86.6% (F3). Severity of violence (by category) As probably to be expected, the largest categories of non-sexual domestic violence were actual bodily harm (ABH) and common assault (CA). The more serious forms of violence, homicide and grievous bodily harm, formed a small minority of recorded assaults. The statistics for five forces are given on Figure 3, as victims per ten thousand of population in the force area for each of the three categories.
Ethnicity of victims:
Comparison of victimisation by ethnicity is shown on Figure 5 for six forces. In the case of two of these forces (F2 and F8), Black victimisation at over 12.0 per thousand is more than double that of the other ethnic groups. Only in one force (F6) is it more comparable. Asian victimisation is generally comparable with that for White people, while Chinese victimisation is consistently lower than that for all the other groups in the case of all six forces.
Ratios of the per cent of the numbers of victims in each ethnic group against the per cent of the population in each ethnic group, are shown in Figure 6. This presents a similar pattern to that of the numbers of victims shown in Figure 5, the Black group being substantially higher than all the other groups, with a maximum ratio of 3.24 (F1), and the Chinese consistently lower, with one exception, a high of 1.17 (F3).
Arrests and disposals:
The proportions of accused females out of the total of arrests and of disposals for both sexes, are shown on Figure 10 for eight forces. These indicate that, compared to the proportion arrested, a higher proportion of accused females than accused males were cautioned, and a lower proportion were charged. Although not shown, the reverse situation applied to accused males, ie. a smaller proportion were cautioned than arrested and a higher proportion were charged.
For the four forces which provided this information, the proportions of accused females who were arrested, out of the total of accused males and females who were arrested by each force, ranged between 11.8% (F7) and 19.2% (F5). For all eight forces, the proportions of accused females who were cautioned ranged from 15.6% (F7) to 24.2% (F3) of total cautions by each force, significantly higher than the proportions of arrests. The proportions of accused females who were charged ranged from 3.5% (F5) to 14.0% (F1) of the totals of accused males and females charged by each force, generally much less than the proportions for arrests.
Such comparisons suggest that either the violence committed by an accused female is not as severe generally as that of comparable accused male, or that accused females are treated generally more leniently than accused males.
This disparity of outcome is further illustrated by Figure 11. This shows, for the four forces which provided this information, lower arrest rates for accused females than the corresponding proportion of male victims. For example, in the case of force F2, the ratio of male to female victims recorded by the force was 0.23, but the proportion of female (to male) accused was significantly lower at 0.18. Part of the difference might be that some male victims were assaulted by other males, but this same-sex factor may well also apply to female victims. Generally, the chart shows for accused females proportionally higher caution ratios and lower charging ratios than corresponding arrest ratios for female to male accused, and likewise when compared with the ratio of male to female victims.
Summary of conclusions:
Tentative conclusions for domestic related non-sexual violence against the person, based on the police records for year 2007/08 provided for this study, may be summarised as follows.
- Victimisation rates for females were about four times those for males.
- The proportion of male victims recorded by the police varied between forces but was generally in the range of 15 to 20% of all victims. Similar proportions applied to non-sexual partner violence.
- The majority of recorded assaults were classified as ABH followed by common assault. Homicide and GBH formed only a very small proportion of cases. Male victims accounted for nearly a half of GBH assaults.
- Black victimisation was substantially higher than for other ethnic groups, and Chinese victimisation smaller.
- The peak age for victimisation was 21 to 30, followed by the next age decade of 31 to 40. Victimisation in the 51 to 60 decade was about half that of the peak. Victimisation in these three age decades accounted for about 80% of all victims.
- The age profiles of victims and of offenders were remarkably similar.
- Female offenders appear to be treated more leniently than male offenders, with fewer proportionally arrested, more proportionally cautioned, and fewer proportionally charged.
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