Domestic abuse charges fall by 20 per cent despite rise in reports
The number of domestic violence attacks that are considered for prosecution have fallen by one-fifth in Devon and Cornwall since 2010, official figures reveal.
The figures show that the number of domestic violence cases being referred by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service to be considered for charge and prosecution has fallen from 2,135 in 2010-11 in the two counties to 1,703 in 2012-13.
This was despite indications the number of reported incidents is going up. Between 2010/11 and 2011/12, reported incidents were up 2.2%. There was no data for 2012-13.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said the justice system is "badly failing" victims.
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He added: "In Devon and Cornwall, domestic violence cases handed to the Crown prosecution Service has fallen by just over 20% since 2010-2011.
"It is clear that our criminal justice system is now badly failing victims of such abuse, as fewer perpetrators are being brought to justice, whilst the number of reported cases continues to rise.
"The harrowing impact of these failures has been all too apparent to me following my recent visits to domestic abuse services in Exeter, where I was able to listen to stories relating to this at first hand."
The figures were obtained by Labour in a Freedom of Information request, and analysed by the House of Commons library.
The Opposition blamed the fall – witnessed in regions across the country – on deep cuts in Whitehall funding for the police which had affected their ability to investigate and bring criminals to justice.
Devon and Cornwall Police's grant has been slashed by £51 million over four years, meaning it has had to shed 200 officers.
A Home Office spokesman defended the Government's record, saying nearly £40 million had been ring-fenced for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, and protection for victims had been strengthened through the pilot of "Clare's Law".
She added: "Domestic violence, rape and sexual offence prosecutions have reached their highest ever conviction rate for the second year running – so the systems in place to protect women are working, despite the necessary cuts to police budgets. But there is still much to do."