FactFiction2The claim

“After rising by 23 per cent between 2007-2010, there has been a 13 per cent decrease in the number of cases of domestic violence referred to the CPS by the police since 2010 in England and Wales.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, Labour press release, 4 September 2013

The background

Yvette Cooper has attacked the government’s record on domestic violence – claiming that it is “failing badly”.

“Referrals and prosecutions were going up before the election,” she said. “But now, fewer police officers are referring fewer domestic violence cases for prosecution and victims are being let down as a result.”

More abusers are “getting away with it”, Ms Cooper, who is Shadow Minister for Women and Equality, said. She blamed police cuts for the drop in referrals.

Is she being fair to the boys in blue?  FactCheck investigates.

The analysis

The data behind Crown Prosecution Service’s annual report, which is published in July, shows that Ms Cooper is right about the pre-election rise in police case referrals.

But the rise in referrals didn’t stop as soon as the new government came in.

Under Labour, between 2007-08 and 2009-10, there was a 23 per cent increase in domestic violence case referrals from 74,065 to 91,184.

When they left office, the conviction rate was 71.98 per cent.

Then, the new government came in – and in their first year the number of cases referred by the police soared by 11 per cent – to 101,242.

But the interesting thing is that despite the high number of cases referred, the conviction rate barely changed.

It went from 71.98 per cent in the last days of Labour, to 71.91 per cent in the coalitions’ first year.

And then, the police cuts came in. The referral rate dropped from that new high by 13 per cent to 70,702 in 2012-2013.

But here’s the thing, the conviction rate actually went up. The conviction rate now stands at 74.32 per cent.

The verdict

Yvette Cooper said police in England and Wales are referring fewer domestic violence cases for prosecution and victims are being let down as a result. This has all happened “since cuts to frontline policing started”, she said.

She’s right that police referrals have dropped since Labour left office (though we would point out that they were up 11 per cent in the coalition’s first year before heading down).

But has this let down victims? It’s not clear that more referrals = a higher rate of convictions.

Pre-police cuts, the big rise of referrals in the coalition’s first year didn’t make a difference to conviction rates.

What’s more, in Labour’s last year – the referral rate rose 13 per cent (from 80,423 to 91,184) , but the conviction rate barely changed (it dropped 0.25 per cent from 72.23 per cent to 71.98 per cent).

Since the cuts, the conviction rate has actually risen to 74.32 per cent. And that means that last year 52,549 abusers out of 70,702 were found guilty.

By Emma Thelwell