§ Mr. Michael
Domestic violence is a serious and widespread crime which damages the lives of victims in many respects, including housing, health and education, 171W and destroys their freedom to live their lives without fear. The Government are committed to tackling domestic violence on every front.
We are currently examining the policies operating in this area, with a view to ensuring that we have an effective strategy against domestic and sexual violence. This strategy will take full account of our commitments to tackling crime in general, and to promoting equality and opportunity for women.
§ Mr. Michael
The biennial British Crime Survey (BCS), conducted by the Home Office, already provides a regular measure of the extent of violence against both women and men in England and Wales. The next sweep of the BCS will take place in early 1998.
There is ongoing work by survey designers to improve the measurement of sexual and domestic violence in particular. The most recent sweep, in 1996, contained a particularly detailed component on domestic violence. The data are currently being analysed and findings will be published in due course.
Some main findings of the extent of violence against women from the 1996 BCS include:There were 1,580,000 incidents of contact crime (wounding, common assault, robbery and snatch theft) aimed against women during 1995. In total, 39 per cent. of violent incidents measured by the BCS in 1995 were against women.Women are less likely than men to be victims of all types of violence except domestic violence (defined as woundings and common assaults committed by relatives, partners, ex-partners or other household members). In 1995, 1.3 per cent. of women responding to the survey reported one or more such incidents, compared with 0.7 per cent. of men. The risks are greatest for women under thirty: 3.3 per cent. of such respondents reported a domestic violence incident in 1995 to the survey.0.7 per cent. of women were victims of mugging (robbery and snatch theft) in 1995. The risks were highest for younger women: 1.3 per cent. of those aged 16 to 29 had been mugged compared with 0.5 per cent. of the older age group.Thirty-five per cent. of violent incidents against women measured by the BCS were reported to the police in 1995. Muggings were most likely to be reported (71 per cent.), domestic incidents and other violence from people known to the victim the least likely (32 per cent. and 27 per cent. respectively).
§ Mr. Michael
Domestic violence is not a legally defined offence and the police are not currently required separately to identify domestic violence incidents in their statistical returns to the Home Office or to record the relationship between victim and offender. Crimes of domestic violence, if they reach the courts, could be prosecuted as threatening behaviour, affray, common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm, indecent assault, rape or attempted rape, threats to kill, attempted murder, manslaughter or murder. For this reason it is difficult to assess centrally exactly how many cases of domestic172W violence occur in England and Wales. However, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary collects some statistics on domestic violence and many police forces have their own arrangements for doing so. Other sources, such as the British Crime Survey, also provide useful statistical data on domestic violence.
Along with my colleagues in the Home Office and in other Government Departments, I am currently examining all the policies operating in the area of domestic violence, including the collection of statistics.