Since the first Covid-19 lockdown last year, cases of domestic abuse and subsequent deaths have risen. In England and Wales, a woman dies as a result of domestic violence every three days. But the reality is that few perpetrators are arrested, let alone charged and convicted.
The rise in cases is beginning to worry government ministers, which is no surprise given domestic abuse has never been properly tackled. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove has been planning how best to use existing powers to tackle this shadow pandemic. Ideas include a minimum standard for police and other criminal justice agencies to increase prosecutions and better protect the victims.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which became law at the end of April, makes it clear that the government needs to deal with the perpetrators and not merely focus on mopping up the mess. But as yet, nothing concrete has been proposed, despite the devastating effects on wider society.
The occasional bit of funding thrown at domestic violence refuges does nothing but enable victims temporary reprieve while the perpetrators get to stay in the family home. The latest available figures show that victims have already experienced an average of 50 incidents of abuse before reporting to police, and recent data has found that three in four domestic abuse cases reported to the police in England and Wales end without charge.
There are other consequences to this — the cost to society of domestic violence is huge, such as children in care, mental and physical ill-health, drug and alcohol abuse and other related crime. Such abuse makes criminals out of victims.
Annelise Sanderson was two when her father was jailed for serious domestic violence offenses against her mother. She was