91,000 charged for attacks on women

Bridgwater Mercury: Keir Starmer says the increasing number of convictions for violence against women is due to a 'cultural change' in the way these crimes are dealt with Keir Starmer says the increasing number of convictions for violence against women is due to a 'cultural change' in the way these crimes are dealt with

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has reported its highest conviction rate on record for cases involving violence against women and girls.

It prosecuted 91,000 cases involving violence against females in the year 2011/12, compared to 75,000 in 2007/8.

And over the same period the number of convictions rose from 52,000 to almost 67,000.

Announcing the figures, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer will say a "cultural change" in the way such issues are dealt with has helped their success at being prosecuted. "The work of the service in recognising violence against women and girls as a unified, high-priority issue, championed at the most senior level nationally and in the areas, and addressed through new policies, training and the use of specialist staff, has delivered a cultural change," he will say.

"Cases are now judged entirely on the merits of the evidence: we have recognised that myths and stereotypes previously held have no place in our criminal justice system - and that we need to tackle them head on."

Mr Starmer is chairing a case review panel to explore the handling of the Rochdale prosecutions where nine Muslim men, mainly of Pakistani origin, were found guilty of plying girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs and raping them.

He will say: "Violence against women and girls is not a race issue, but what we do recognise is that the manifestation of abuse varies across communities and we have to discuss the issues and possible solutions together with those communities."

Mr Starmer is also expected to talk about the issue of teenage relationship abuse, where there remains a low volume of prosecutions and explain how a National Scrutiny Panel he is hosting will look at six recent cases and work out recommendations. He will also mention female genital mutilation, for which there have been no prosecutions. "I am determined that we will find a way to bring offenders to account," he will say.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said: "Refuge welcomes the recent CPS report which shows that the number of perpetrators being prosecuted for domestic violence has increased to 91,466 per year.

"Refuge has been campaigning for four decades to ensure that women and children are given the protection and justice they deserve and we commend the CPS for their efforts. Whilst we recognise these efforts are a step in the right direction, there is no room for complacency. Refuge remains concerned that the numbers of perpetrators prosecuted and subsequently convicted represents the tip of an iceberg. In London alone, there were almost 52,000 domestic violence offences recorded in one year, so the 66,860 successfully prosecuted nationally, barely scratches the surface."

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