Violence against women could become significantly less visible in police-recorded crime figures when a new counting method comes into effect, warn researchers at Lancaster University.
The Home Office Counting Rules plans to count controlling behaviour as ‘non-injurious violent crime’ capped at one crime per victim.
University researchers say the new plans will mask the true extent of the problem as statistics show one in 20 victims can experience more than 10 domestic violence crimes a year.
The warning comes in a new paper, ‘Untangling the concept of coercive control: theorising domestic violent crime’, published in the journal, Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Authors Professor Sylvia Walby and Dr Jude Towers, from the Violence and Society Centre at Lancaster University, say measurement r matters and that only by taking account of the repetitive nature of domestic violence will the full extent be made visible.
Currently, and under review, official estimation methods of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) ‘cap’ frequencies of violent crimes against the same victim at a maximum of five.
“Counting all crimes reported to a survey is the right thing to do,” said Professor Sylvia Walby and Dr Jude Towers.
“Making estimates of violent crime that includes all crimes rather than ‘capping’ produces better estimates of the extent and distribution of domestic violent crime.”
The paper examines the traditional approach to domestic violence and a more recent approach which includes the new concept of ‘coercive control’, designed to protect victims who experience extreme psychological and emotional abuse and bring their abusers to justice.
“But is domestic violence really so different from other forms of violence that it needs separate concepts?” ask the authors.
The authors focuses on the relationship between violence, economy and society, rather than on ideas and motives, and suggest the term ‘domestic violent crime’ is a more straightforward concept and ‘clarifies’ definitions of domestic violence.
The authors discovered there are an estimated 300,000 domestic violent crime victims and 1.2 million violent crimes per year. Their research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and data included 1678 people (1312 female and 366 male) reporting domestic violent crime.