Summary of Home Office and NSPCC Statistics Relating to Violence and Abuse by Paul Renn

The extent and nature of intimate violence, partner abuse and serious sexual assault

Intimate violence is the collective term used for partner abuse, family abuse, sexual assault and stalking. The issue of willingness to disclose intimate violence is very important. Prevalence rates for domestic violence derived from the 2005/06 self-completion module were around five times higher for adults than those obtained from the face-to-face interviews. Moreover, self-report findings show relatively similar levels of domestic violence for both men and women. These findings are not reflected in the statistics for face-to-face interviews or in domestic violence offences recorded by the police.

Non-sexual partner abuse was the most commonly experienced type of intimate violence among both women and men. Overall the pattern of partner abuse was similar among men and women; however, women were more likely than men to have experienced each type of partner abuse.

Men were significantly more likely to remain with their abusive female partner than women. 

Approximately one-third of female victims of partner abuse had been pregnant at some point during the violent relationship. Of those women, 43% reported that their partner had used, or threatened to use, force while they were pregnant.

Women were significantly more likely to tell someone about the abuse than men. 

Men were significantly more likely to say that the incident(s) was ‘too trivial or not worth reporting to the police’ than women. 

Women were more likely to view the abuse as domestic violence compared with male victims.

Female victims were more likely to regard the abuse as a crime than male victims, whereas male victims were more likely to think of the abuse as ‘just something that happens’. This may, however, reflect that women are more likely to suffer injuries or problems as a result of the abuse. A follow-up study of male victims of domestic violence in Scotland in 2000 found that some male victims admitted being violent towards their partners: some admitted to being primary instigators of the abuse, and some that both partners were equally violent towards each other. Those men who admitted to perpetrating domestic violence against their partners (equally or more than their partners) did not see themselves as victims of domestic violence.

The most common location of a serious sexual assault was in the victim’s own home, the second most common location being in the offender’s home.

Eighty one per cent of victims of serious sexual assault said that the offender used non-sexual additional threat, force or intimidation during the assault. The most common force used was physical force, for example being held down, punched or kicked.

Psychological problems resulting from serious sexual assault (mental or emotional problems, stopping trusting people or having difficulty in other relationships) were much more likely than physical injuries.

The great majority of cases of serious sexual assault were carried out by a sole male offender. 

In the vast majority of cases of serious sexual assault the offender was male (less than half of 1% of offenders were female).

Over half of offenders of serious sexual assault were current or former partners, the next most frequent occurrence being that the offender was a friend or neighbour.

Source: Home Office British Crime Survey for 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07


Relationships between victims and offenders of the most serious violence against the person

The most serious violent crime is homicide. The term homicide covers offences of murder, manslaughter and infanticide – the killing of an infant under the age of one year. 

In 2006/07, there were 757 homicides and 620 attempted murder offences in England and Wales. Sixty eight per cent of female victims were acquainted with the offender. Sixty five per cent were killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover. 

By comparison, 44% of male victims knew the offender. Of these male victims, 11% were killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover.

211 men (39% of all male victims) and 38 women (20% of all female victims) were killed by strangers.

Of the 757 victims of homicide, 68 (9%) were under the age of 16. Of the 68 victims, 33 were killed by their parents. A further 9 were killed by strangers. There were no suspects for 15 of the victims.

More than half of homicides (53%) resulted from a quarrel, revenge or loss of temper. Of those convicted of homicide in 2006/07, 213 were male and 21 female.

The majority of offences of ‘most serious violence against the person’ are ‘serious wounding or other acts endangering life’. There were 15,094 such offences in 2007/08.
In respect of other acts of violence against the person, the police recorded 236,533 harassment offences in 2007/08. 

The ‘most serious sexual crime’ encompasses rape, sexual assault, and sexual activity with children. The sensitivity of these offences has resulted in under-reporting.

In 2007/08 41,460 ‘most serious sexual offences’ were recorded by the police. Within this total, there were 11,648 rapes of a female and 1,006 rapes of a male. There were 20,534 sexual assaults on a female and 2,642 sexual assaults on a male.

In terms of the risks of becoming a victim of violent crime, young men are at greatest risk of victimisation.

Of the estimated 2,164,000 violent incidents recorded by the British Crime Survey in 2007/08 around a third were incidents of stranger violence, and a further third were incidents of acquaintance violence. Domestic violence accounted for about one in six violent incidents. Self-report findings indicate an under-reporting of crimes of domestic violence.

Domestic violence was the only category of violence for which the risk for women was significantly higher than for men. Risk of stranger and acquaintance violence was substantially greater for men than for women. 
Violence against men is much more likely to be stranger violence: 45% of violent incidents against men were stranger violence, compared with 19% of incidents against women. Conversely, 33% of violent incidents against women were domestic violence, compared with 4% of incidents against men. However, self-report findings show that men are significantly less likely to view incidents of domestic violence as a crime and to report such incidents to the police.

In the majority of incidents of domestic violence the victims were women (85%) while for incidents of stranger violence most victims were men (78%).

Not only did men have the greatest risk of violent victimisation, but men were also most likely to be the offender (87% of incidents involved male offenders).

Source: Home Office British Crime Survey for 2006/2007


Child Deaths in the UK

There are approximately 80-100 homicides of children aged between 0 and 16 years each year in the UK.

The homicide rate in the under one’s is consistently higher than in older age groups over the last ten years.

The homicides of boys outnumber that of girls in all age groups. Male infants also outnumber female infants among children placed on child protection registers for physical abuse.

The largest proportion (40%) of child homicides are classified as ‘assaults by other and unspecified means’, followed by ‘deaths due to assault by hanging and strangulation’ (17%), ‘others’ (15%), ‘assault by poisoning’ (11%) and deaths due to ‘child battering and other maltreatment’ (9%).

Parents were the principle suspect in the largest number of homicides of children aged less than one and in the overwhelming majority of the homicide victims aged 1-4 years. 

The majority of school aged victims of homicide are killed by family members or friends and less than a quarter by strangers. There are differences between boys and girls, with boys being more likely to be killed by parents than girls and girls being more vulnerable to strangers than boys.

Source: NSPCC inform (2004)


Child Homicides in England and Wales

On average, every week in England and Wales one to two children are killed at the hands of another person.

Each week at least one child dies from cruelty.

Infants under one year of age are more at risk of being killed at the hands of another person than any other age group of child under 18.

Almost two-thirds of children killed at the hands of another person are under five years of age.

Every ten days one child is killed at the hands of their parent.

On average, 11 children per year are killed at the hands of strangers.

Killings of children by a natural parent are committed in roughly equal proportions by mothers (47%) and fathers (53%), but where the child is killed by someone other than a parent, males strongly predominate.

The proportion of child homicides in which the perpetrator is a parent is exceptionally high among infants.

The proportion of child homicides where the parent is the principal suspect falls as children get older.

Source: NSPCC key child protection statistics (2007)

Child Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect in the UK

A quarter of children experience one or more forms of physical violence during childhood. For the majority of these children, the abuse happens at home and breaches ‘acceptable societal standards’. 

In total, 21% of children experience some degree of physical abuse at the hands of their parents or carers during childhood.

7% of children experience serious physical abuse at the hands of parents or carers.

The person responsible for physical violence during childhood was most often the mother (49%) or father (40%).

6% of children experience serious absence of care at home.

5% of children experience serious absence of parental supervision.

6% of children experience frequent and severe emotional maltreatment by their parents or carers.

Nearly 32,000 children in the UK are known to be currently at risk of abuse.

As at 31 March 2006, there were 31,919 children on the child protection registers in the UK.

On average, over 700 registrations are made to child protection registers in the UK each week.

With the exception of sexual abuse, both mothers and fathers are equally likely to be involved in the maltreatment of their children (physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect).

Studies into the prevalence of maltreatment among children with disabilities in the US have found that disabled children are over three times more likely to experience abuse and neglect than non-disabled children

Source: NSPCC key child protection statistics (2007)


Child Sexual Abuse in the UK

1% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse by a parent of carer, and a further 3% by another relative.

11% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse by people known but unrelated to them.

5% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse by an adult stranger or someone they had just met.

In total, 16% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood.

Overall, 11% of boys and 21% of girls aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood.

The majority of children who experienced sexual abuse had more than one sexually abusive experience. 

Three-quarters of sexually abused children did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time. 27% told someone later. Around a third still had not told anyone about their experiences by early adulthood. 

More than one third (36%) of all rapes recorded by the police in England and Wales are committed against children under 16 years of age.

In 2002 in England and Wales, 45% of all rapes and attempted rapes that resulted in a criminal conviction were committed against children under 16. 

For the children who experienced sexual abuse in the family, the most common perpetrator was a brother or step-brother (38%), followed by a father (23%), by an uncle (14%), by a step-father (13%), by a cousin (8%), by a grandfather (6%) and by a mother (4%).

For children who experienced sexual abuse outside of the family, the most common perpetrator was a boyfriend or girlfriend (70%), followed by ‘someone I recently met’ (17%), by a fellow student/pupil (10%), by a friend of their parents (6%) and by a friend of their brother or sister (6%).

Very few children (less than 1%) experienced abuse by a professional in a position of trust.

Source: NSPCC key child protection statistics (2007)

Author details:

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