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PCC Vera Baird QC welcomes increase in VAWG-related prosecutions

6th September 2016

The findings of today’s CPS annual Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report reveal a record number of convictions for rape, domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse cases, have been described as showing ‘welcome progress’ by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC.

These offences now account for 18.6 per cent of the CPS’s total caseload which is increasing year-on-year. In 2015/16, the CPS prosecuted 117,568 defendants for all crimes grouped together as VAWG.

Nationally more than 100,000 defendants were prosecuted for domestic abuse, with over 75,000 convicted – the highest volumes ever recorded, also reaching the highest ever conviction rate of 75.4 per cent by March 2016.

Statistics have also shown five prosecutions for the new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour which came into law in December, 2015.

Vera Baird QC, said: “These conviction figures have doubled compared to last year, which shows an increase in victims coming forward and sends a message out to all abusers that’s loud and clear – you are more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before. While these figures, which are echoed locally, are encouraging and show growing confidence in our police forces, we know these numbers are only scratching the surface of the true extent of these crimes, many of which are still underreported.

“Tackling VAWG related issues is a top priority here in Northumbria and we have demonstrated how seriously we take these issues by continually developing our own regional VAWG strategy. We have also restructured resources to launch a Safeguarding Department dedicated to tackling the increasing workload around identifying and supporting vulnerable victims and ensuring offenders are put behind bars. We also have specialist teams tackling the growing challenges presented by the digital age, such as sextortion.

“We are proud to have been the first force in the country to train every officer in preparation of the new domestic abuse coercive control law, recognising the importance of understanding the nature of this abuse so evidence can be built and the offender prosecuted. This initiative seems to be paying off as 50 coercive control offences have been recorded here in Northumbria, many of which are under live investigation and may well result in charges to join the two coercive control charges that have already been brought, with one person being sent for trial to the Crown Court.

“While this CPS VAWG report shows welcome progress, the Government must ensure that we don’t see a drop in these convictions further down the line, as a result of future budget cuts. It’s vital we continue to do all we can to build confidence and encourage more people to report offences, knowing they will be listened to and offered specialist support by trained professionals.”