Incidents of domestic violence have been on the rise since 2009, researchers claim.
Contradicting official claims that the number of reported cases is going down, academics from Lancaster University found that it is actually increasing. They used a new method to calculate how many violent crimes are committed in England and Wales and compared their results to the data published by the government.
When the Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces crime data, there is a cap on the number of incidents a single person can report at five. Capping is a technique used by statisticians to reduce the possibility of outlying results when comparing data from year to year. Outlying results, or ‘outliers’, are points of data which are far removed from the majority of the other observations. They are often removed from consideration as they can skew overall results.
However, researchers at Lancaster University insist this technique actually excludes “high frequency” victims of domestic violence. They claim that such victims make up more than five per cent of reports, so should not be ignored.
Study co-author Sylvia Walby is a sociology professor at the university. She said that the cap “biases the crime rate downwards” which means the overall crime rate published by the ONS is lower than it should be.
Her team analysed data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales between 1994 and 2014. Using a method designed to account for the outliers without the bias, domestic violence appeared to increase from 2009. Researchers also said that the number of violent crimes overall was 60 per cent higher than the ONS reported and 70 per cent higher for all incidents involving violence against women.
In response, an ONS spokesperson said they would look at “options for reflecting better the experiences of repeat victims”. The ONS welcomed the Lancaster University study, saying it would be useful in their efforts to “improve crime statistics and to build improved trust in the figures”.
The results of the study can be read in full here.
Meanwhile, researchers at Teesside University claim that many male victims of domestic violence are afraid to report incidents because they are viewed with suspicion by police.
Counselling Psychology Senior Lecturer Dr Jessica McCarrick spoke to a number of men who said they were victims of domestic violence. Some reported that they had been arrested after their partners had accused them of being the perpetrators rather than the victims.
Dr McCarrick said that such claims were quite common among the men she interviewed, whose “disclosures of being the victim are not taken seriously, despite having evidence”.
These experiences can be “incredibly disheartening” for possible victims, she continued, and may “ultimately [prevent] countless men from reporting intimate partner violence”.