A record number of domestic abuse offences were recorded in Merseyside last year, new figures show.
Last week Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, met with leaders and partners to commit to a new region-wide plan aimed at making Merseyside a safer place for all women and girls.
The new scheme, titled‘Working in partnership to tackle Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Delivery Plan’ is the result of extensive consultation across all five boroughs of Merseyside, including with victims.
Ms Spurrell said: “There is an epidemic of violence against women and girls in this country. Recent tragic and high-profile cases have brought this into sharp focus, highlighting just how far we still must go to eradicate such crimes.
“We know women and girls experience violence in our communities every day. It is culturally embedded – deep-rooted in a society that was designed for men, and which enables misogynistic attitudes and sexism to fester.
“As Police Commissioner, my priority is to create a safe region for everyone - that means for all women and girls.”
Office for National Statistics figures show 32,952 domestic abuse-related crimes were recorded by Merseyside Police in the year to March – up from 26,789 the year before and the highest number since 2015-16, when comparable records began.
It meant there were 23.2 domestic abuse offences per 1,000 people in the area last year.
The number of violent domestic abuse-related crimes in Merseyside also reached a record high last year, rising from 21,541 to 26,780.
Nationally, 910,000 domestic abuse offences were recorded in the year to March – 7.7% more than the year before – and also a record.
Call for change
Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said the figures show “we are still facing an epidemic of violence against women and girls which shows no sign of stopping”. Ms Davison added: “Survivors and women experiencing abuse cannot wait for change.”
Despite the rise in offences, the number of arrests and crimes referred to the Crown Prosecution Service has fallen across the country.
Across the 41 police forces that supplied sufficient data, the arrest rate per 100 domestic abuse-related crimes fell from 32.6 in 2020-21 to 31.3 last year. Meanwhile, the number of referrals of domestic abuse suspects also fell, from 77,812 to 67,063.
“This is simply not good enough when women’s lives are at risk,” Ms Davison added. “The figures restate the importance of Refuge’s calls for improved mandatory training for all criminal justice professionals so they recognise the seriousness of domestic abuse, and can respond in an appropriate, trauma-informed way.
“Now is the time to prioritise bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Domestic abuse charge rates and funding
However, the charge rate increased across the country for the first time in four years, with 73% of cases considered by the CPS leading to a charge in 2021-22.
In Merseyside, 2,200 cases led to 1,750 charges, meaning the charge rate rose from 77% in 2020-21 to 80% last year.
The Home Office said domestic abuse is “a devastating crime that ruins lives” and that it is fully supporting victims, survivors and their families.
A spokesperson said more than £230 million is being invested to tackle rising domestic abuse offences, with the Domestic Abuse Act further supporting victims.
Of the funding, £3.3 million has been committed to training first responders to treat every case sensitively.