Analysis in this publication only provides breakdowns of domestic abuse by victim characteristics for police recorded offences because of the suspension of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in March 2020. Without CSEW estimates, analysis of victim characteristics is limited. This is because police recorded crime data may be influenced by changes in recording practices and police activity, or by changes in the way victims report to the police.
The following figures represent data supplied from 26 police forces.
The victim was female in 73% of domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2021, similar to 74% in the previous year.
In the year ending March 2021, the highest proportion of female victims of violence against the person offences, identified as domestic abuse-related, were aged 30 to 34 years, whereas male victims were generally older with the highest proportion of victims aged 75 years and over.
The rate of domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales slightly increased from 13 per 1,000 population in the year ending March 2020 to 14 per 1,000 population in the year ending March 2021; this likely reflects improved police recording practices, not necessarily an increase in victims.
Between the year ending March 2018 and March 2020, 76% of victims of domestic homicide were female, and 14% of victims of non-domestic homicide were female.
Nearly one in five victims of domestic homicide (18%) were aged 70 years and over; in contrast, 1 in 20 victims of non-domestic homicide (5%) were aged 70 years and over, with the highest proportion of victims being from the younger age groups.
Domestic abuse is often a hidden crime that is not reported to the police. Therefore, data held by the police can only provide a partial picture of the actual level of domestic abuse experienced. Many cases will not enter the criminal justice process as they are not reported to the police.
In previous years, estimates including when a victim does not report abuse to the police or to other domestic abuse services have been produced from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). However, the face-to-face CSEW was suspended on 17 March 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and replaced with the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW). The TCSEW was specifically designed to continue measuring crime during this period. Concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding led to domestic abuse questions being excluded from the survey. As a result, CSEW estimates of domestic abuse for the year ending March 2021 are not available in this release.
Domestic abuse-related crimes continued to be recorded by police throughout the coronavirus pandemic. As such, victim characteristics data presented in this release are sourced from police recorded crime data. However, in isolation, police recorded crime data does not provide a reliable measure of characteristics of domestic abuse victims. Therefore, figures presented in this release should be interpreted with caution.
Our Domestic abuse victim characteristics, England and Wales: year ending March 2020 article provides our most up to date CSEW estimates.
The Home Office collects data on the number of domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes recorded by the police. Sections 4 to 6 use data from the Home Office Data Hub, a database that contains record level data supplied by force to the Home Office. For the year ending March 2021, 26 police forces supplied data to the Home Office Data Hub. Our Domestic abuse prevalence and victim characteristics tables detail the police forces that provided data.Back to table of contents
Data supplied from 26 police forces showed the victim was female in 73% of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021. Domestic abuse-related sexual offences had the largest proportion of female victims by offence group, at 93% (Figure 1).
Over half (53%) of violence against the person offences experienced by female victims were identified as domestic abuse-related, the same as the previous year. In comparison, 26% of violence against the person offences experienced by male victims were identified as domestic abuse-related. This represents a three-percentage point increase compared with the previous year.
Nearly one-third (30%) of sexual offences experienced by female victims were identified as domestic abuse-related, compared with 12% experienced by male victims.Back to table of contents
Data supplied from 26 police forces showed that violence against the person offences that were identified as being domestic abuse-related differed by age. For female victims, the proportion of these offences was generally higher for those in younger age groups. The highest proportion was in the 30- to 34-year-old age category (57%). For male victims, the proportion of police recorded violence against the person offences that were identified as domestic abuse-related was higher in the older age groups. The highest proportion was in those aged 75 years and over (34%).
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In England and Wales, the rate of domestic abuse-related crimes for the year ending March 2021 rose slightly to 14 per 1,000 population, compared with 13 per 1,000 population in the year ending March 2020.
In the year ending March 2021, the rate of violence against the person domestic abuse-related offences increased slightly to 11.3 per 1,000 population from 10.5 the previous year in England and Wales.
Since the year ending March 2019, the highest rates of domestic abuse-related crimes have been recorded in the North East region. In contrast, the lowest rates were recorded in London (Table 1). Although this could reflect differences in the rates of domestic abuse across regions, it could also reflect regional differences in the reporting of domestic abuse to the police, and how the police subsequently record these offences.
|Region||All domestic |
Apr 2020 to Mar 2021
|All domestic |
Apr 2019 to Mar 2020
|All domestic |
Apr 2018 to Mar 2019
|England and Wales||14.2||13.4||12.6|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||18.0||17.9||17.2|
|East of England||13.7||13.2||11.1|
Download this table Table 1: The rate of domestic abuse-related crimes were highest in the North East and lowest in London.xls .csv
Home Office Homicide Index data for the year ending March 2018 to the year ending March 20201 show that 76% of victims of domestic homicide were female (276 victims). In contrast, most victims of non-domestic homicides over the same time period were male (86%, or 834 victims).
Between the year ending March 2018 and the year ending March 20201, the highest proportion of domestic homicide victims were aged 70 years and over (18%). The highest proportion of non-domestic homicide victims fell within the 20- to 24-year-old age category (15%) (Figure 3).
Notes for: Domestic homicide
- As at 15 December 2020; figures are subject to revision as cases are dealt with by the police and by the courts or as further information becomes available.
Domestic abuse prevalence and victim characteristics
Dataset | Released 24 November 2021
Domestic abuse numbers, prevalence, types, and victim characteristics, based upon police recorded crime.
Domestic abuse in England and Wales – Data tool
Dataset | Released on 24 November 2021
An interactive Excel-based data tool for domestic abuse statistics. It allows users to explore data for their police force area in more detail and compare with other areas.
Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence and can include a range of abusive behaviours. It can also be experienced as repeated patterns of abusive behaviour to maintain power and control in a relationship. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as any incident or pattern of incidents between those aged 16 years and over who:
are a partner
are an ex-partner
are a relative
have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 outlines the following behaviours as abuse:
physical or sexual abuse
violent or threatening behaviour
controlling or coercive behaviour
psychological, emotional, or other abuse
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises children aged under 18 years who see, hear, or experience the effects of the abuse, as a victim of domestic abuse, if they are related or have a parental relationship to the adult victim or perpetrator of the abuse.
Domestic abuse-related crimes
Incidents of domestic abuse that resulted in a crime being recorded by the police and are included in police recorded crime.
Domestic abuse-related incidents
Incidents of domestic abuse that were reported to the police, but following investigation, do not amount to a crime or offence according to the National Crime Recording Standards. These can be added to domestic abuse-related crimes to create a total picture of the demand that domestic abuse puts on the police.
An offence of murder, manslaughter, or infanticide, where the relationship between a victim aged 16 years and over and the perpetrator falls into specific categories. These categories include spouse, common-law spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, ex-spouse, ex-cohabiting partner or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, adulterous relationship, son or daughter (including step and adopted relationships), parent (including step and adopted relationships), brother or sister, and other relatives.
A suspect in a homicide case is defined as either a person who has been arrested in respect of an offence initially classified as homicide and charged with homicide, including those who were subsequently convicted, or a person who is suspected by the police of having committed the offence but is known to have died or committed suicide prior to arrest or being charged.Back to table of contents
Further quality and methodology information can be found in the Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2021.
Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)
Previous domestic abuse in England and Wales releases include analysis of data from the Crime Survey in England and Wales (CSEW). For reasons outlined in Section 3, CSEW estimates are not available for the year ending March 2021.
More information about the CSEW can be found in our:
Work to improve the data collected to measure domestic abuse from the CSEW is ongoing. More information can be found in our Redevelopment of domestic abuse statistics: research update November 2021 article.
How the police measure domestic abuse
The Home Office collects data on the number of domestic abuse-related incidents and the number of domestic-abuse related crimes. More information on domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes can be found in our Domestic abuse QMI and our How domestic abuse data are captured through the criminal justice system article.
Home Office Homicide Index
The Home Office Homicide Index provides data on whether homicides are "domestic". The Homicide Index contains detailed record-level information about each homicide recorded by police in England and Wales.
Analysis on data from the Homicide Index within this publication combines data for a three-year period (year ending March 2018 to year ending March 2020) to account for the year-to-year variability in the volume of homicides. More information can be found in our How domestic abuse data are captured through the criminal justice system article.Back to table of contents
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