HC Deb 05 March 2003 vol 400 cc1072-3W
Mr. Andrew Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the incidence of domestic violence was against(a) married women, (b) women with long-term partners and (c) other women in each of the last three years. [97609]

Mr. Denham

[holding answer 13 February 2003]: Domestic violence is not separately identified in recorded crime statistics collected by the Home Office.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides information on the number of incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales. It estimated that there were 514,000 incidents against women based on interviews in 2001–02. The 2000 BCS which measured crime in 1999 estimated that there were 560,000 incidents against women in 1999. (No comparable analysis was conducted for 2000). This information is not available for women in different types of relationship.

The BCS figures are derived from a sample and so are subject to sampling error. Moreover, the BCS is carried out by face-to-face interviews and some respondents may be unwilling to reveal experience of domestic violence to interviewers. The 1996 BCS included a self-completion component on domestic violence to encourage disclosure. Results were published in Home Office Research Study No. 191—copies are available in the Library. This more confidential approach to measurement revealed that the proportion of women that were victims in the last year of domestic violence was over three times higher than in the main BCS. This study looked at the marital status of women who had been victims of domestic violence in the last year. Women who described themselves as currently separated from a partner with whom they had been living were by far the most likely to have been a victim of domestic violence in the past year: 22 per cent. had been assaulted at least once. At lowest risk were married women (2 per cent.) and those co-habiting (3 per cent.). Risks are higher for single women—both the never married (8 per cent.) and the now divorced (6 per cent.). (Home Office Research Study 191 page 29).

The Government are committed to tackling domestic violence at all levels. It is a serious and abhorrent crime that accounts for one quarter of all violent crime and claims the lives of two women a week. Nearly half of all female murder victims are killed by a partner or an ex-partner. The Government will do everything they can to tackle it and ensure that victims receive the highest levels of support and protection.

A consultation paper setting out proposals to prevent domestic violence will be published by spring 2003. This consultation will build on the initial consultation on domestic violence in the White Paper "Justice for All" and the ongoing work of the inter-departmental Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence which brings together eight Ministers to progress five priority areas for action. Increasing safe accommodation choices for women and children; Developing early and effective healthcare interventions; Improving the interface between the criminal and civil law; Ensuring a consistent and appropriate response from the police and Crown Prosecution Service; and Promoting Education and Awareness Raising.

The consultation will aim to generate a comprehensive response from the public, voluntary sectors and others, to ensure the widest possible agreement on what needs to be done to prevent and deal with domestic violence.