1. Output information


 National Statistic   No
 Survey name   Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)
 Data collection   A variety of survey and administrative data
 Frequency   Annually
 How compiled   From data submitted by various suppliers/charitable  organisations and CSEW survey data
 Geographic coverage   England and Wales

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2. About this Quality and Methodology Information report

This quality and methodology report contains information on the quality characteristics of the data (including the European Statistical Services five dimensions of quality) as well as the methods used to create it.

The information in this report will help you to:

  • understand the strengths and limitations of the data
  • learn about existing uses and users of the data
  • reduce the risk of misusing data
  • help you to decide suitable uses for the data
  • understand the methods used to create the data
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3. Important points

Important points about the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

  • The release on domestic abuse in England and Wales includes data on the different stages of the criminal justice process for cases of domestic abuse, and data on service provision for victims of domestic abuse.

  • The release includes a number of different data sources to provide a more coherent picture of domestic abuse; it is not possible to directly compare each of the datasets because of differences in timescales and reference periods, and because they do not all count the same thing.

  • Caveats are provided throughout to make it clear where a comparison can be made and where it may be more difficult or not possible to directly compare data sources.

  • Data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the Home Office Homicide Index and the Ministry of Justice are classified as National Statistics.

  • Following concerns about the quality and consistency of crime recording practice, police recorded crime data were assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics and found not to meet the required standard for designation as National Statistics1. Therefore, police recorded crime and outcomes data from the Home Office are classified as official statistics.

  • All other data included in the release are sourced from administrative datasets that do not fall within the scope of official statistics.

Notes for: Important points

  1. The full assessment report (PDF, 221KB) can be found on the UK Statistics Authority website.
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4. Quality summary

Overview of the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

The release has been produced in response to a recommendation made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in their 2015 progress report (PDF, 1.5MB) on the police response to domestic abuse. It stated that organisations should work together to:

“develop a dataset relating to domestic abuse which will enable more thorough analysis of how domestic abuse is dealt within a force area.”

The aim of the release is to bring together data on domestic abuse to enable appropriate action to be taken to improve victims’ experiences of the criminal justice process. It is hoped that knowing appropriate support is available will encourage more victims to come forward to report abuse. It also provides a clearer understanding of the criminal justice system’s response to perpetrators of domestic abuse.

The way in which data on domestic abuse are collected differs between sources and organisations. Data are collected over different timescales, and can be based on offences, victims, suspects or defendants. Data can also vary in the way that cases are identified.

These factors, together with the time lag between the stages in the criminal justice process, mean that each part of the release does not refer to the same cohort of cases and so direct comparisons cannot be made across sections. For example, a case reported to the police in one year may not appear with an outcome after investigation until the next year. Or, a case with a prosecution outcome in one year may have been initially reported to the police in a previous year.

Throughout the release, caveats are provided to make it clear where a comparison can be made and where it may be more difficult or not possible to directly compare data sources.

For Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) data and police recorded crime data, the Crime Statistics Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

Uses and users of the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

Data on domestic abuse in England and Wales promotes significant interest from a range of users. These include:

  • elected national and local representatives (such as MPs, police and crime commissioners and local councillors)
  • the Home Office and other government agencies
  • police forces
  • those delivering support or services to victims of crime
  • lobby groups
  • journalists
  • academic researchers
  • teachers
  • students

The data can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • development and monitoring of crime and justice policy
  • public safety campaigns
  • raising awareness of particular forms of crime
  • academic research

They also help to ensure that information on trends in domestic abuse offences in England and Wales are available to help inform the choices and decisions of the general public. Providing breakdowns of victim characteristics allows a greater depth of understanding about domestic abuse.

Table 1 shows the main user groups of domestic abuse statistics and how they use the data provided. The column on the left lists the classes of use identified by the UK Statistics Authority in their monitoring brief, The Use Made of Official Statistics (PDF, 125.6KB). The right column provides more detail on how the data fit that class of use.

Strengths and limitations of the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

Strengths:

  • a regular annual release provides timely data to users
  • data from different sources can lead to an improved victim experience and an increase in reported abuse
  • data provide a clearer understanding of the criminal justice system’s response to victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse
  • the domestic abuse data tool which is published alongside the release allows users to explore data for police force areas in more detail and compare these with similar areas within England and Wales

Limitations:

  • the different datasets included in the release do not relate to the same cases given the different timescales and reference periods used to collect the data, and do not count the same things; therefore each of the numbers cannot be directly compared
  • statistics on domestic abuse are produced separately by a number of different organisations in England and Wales; when taken in isolation, these statistics may not provide the context required by users to enable them to understand the national and local picture of domestic abuse
  • data relating to the criminal justice system and specialist domestic abuse services only refer to cases of domestic abuse that become visible to the police and services; cases that enter the criminal justice system may drop out at any stage of the process

Recent improvements to the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

As part of ongoing work to improve our publications, the format of the 2019 domestic abuse release has been changed. The commentary on topics covered in the previous domestic abuse in England and Wales publication is now split into a number of separate releases. These can all be found linked from the Domestic Abuse in England and Wales overview release page.

Future development will continue to fill gaps in domestic abuse data by looking at new data sources to create a more comprehensive resource for users.

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5. Quality characteristics of the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

Relevance

The data collated within this release provide a clearer understanding of the criminal justice system’s response to both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. It is hoped that this understanding will lead to better support for abuse victims and an increased willingness of victims to report their experiences.

Data on domestic abuse in England and Wales receive significant interest from a range of users. See the Uses and users of the domestic abuse in England and Wales release in section 4 for more information.

Accuracy and reliability

The release includes data from a number of data sources, the majority of which are based on administrative records.

More information on the accuracy of each of the data sources is given in the Main data sources and their accuracy section.

For more detail on the accuracy and reliability of the data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) see the Crime in England and Wales QMI.

Coherence and comparability

The data included in the release come from a number of sources, and direct comparisons cannot be made between figures. This is because the different sources of data do not always relate to the same cases, as often different timescales and reference periods have been used during collection. They also do not count the same things; for example, some record the number of victims or defendants, while others record the number of incidents or offences that occurred.

Comparisons of the same data sources over time can be made, for example, comparison of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police. However such data can be affected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices. For example, comparisons of the data over time need to take account of the introduction of new legislation and changes to the Home Office Counting Rules, which will subsequently impact on the volume of cases passing through the criminal justice system.

Concepts and definitions

Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence. It can include repeated patterns of abusive behaviour to maintain power and control in a relationship. In 2012 the government published guidance which recognised this and defined domestic violence and abuse as:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling1, coercive2, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. It can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional"

With the exception of coercive and controlling behaviour, which was introduced as a criminal offence on 29 December 2015, other acts of domestic abuse fall under generic offence categories in police recorded crime and criminal justice data, such as assault with injury.

Geography

Data on domestic abuse is available at national level for England and Wales. Some datasets are also available at police force area level.

Accessibility and clarity

Our recommended format for accessible content is a combination of HTML web pages for narrative, charts and graphs, with data being provided in usable formats such as CSV and Excel. Our website also offers users the option to download the narrative in PDF format. In some instances, other software may be used, or may be available on request. Available formats for content published on our website, but not produced by us, or referenced on our website but stored elsewhere, may vary. For further information, contact Meghan Elkin via email at crimestatistics@ons.gov.uk.

For information regarding conditions of access to data:

Timeliness and punctuality

The Domestic abuse in England and Wales release is published on an annual basis. The data included in the release is the latest available at the time of publishing. Information on the time period of each of the data sources included in the release is given in Table 2.

Notes for: Quality characteristics of the Domestic abuse in England and Wales data

  1. Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

  2. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

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6. Methods used to produce the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

Main data sources and their accuracy

Statistics on domestic abuse are produced separately by several different organisations in England and Wales. When taken in isolation, these statistics may not provide the context required by users to enable them to understand the national and local picture of domestic abuse. This release brings together the following sources.

How we analyse and quality assure the data

Several methods are used to ensure the quality of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) data collection operation by both Kantar Public, the survey contractor, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Kantar Public has robust quality management systems in place, which are formally accredited, and endorsed and supported at a corporate level. More information can be found in the annual technical reports.

We also have quality management systems in place to further quality assure the data when it comes to us for final preparation and publication; any errors identified through these checks are returned to Kantar Public for validation or correction. Checks are also carried out within the team throughout the data production process before final publication.

Regarding police recorded crime, prior to submitting data to us, the Home Office Police Data Collection Section (PDCS) and Home Office Statistics Unit carry out internal quality assurance of the recorded crime data. Any anomalies or errors identified through these checks results in a report being returned to the relevant force for validation or correction. Prior to publication of any crime statistics verification checks are also carried out, asking individual forces for confirmation that the data accords with that held on their own systems. For more information, see Chapter 3 of the User guide.

All other data included in the publication are quality assured by the individual data suppliers and further checks are carried out by our team on receipt of the data. Any discrepancies are queried with the supplier for validation.

How we disseminate the data

Domestic abuse in England and Wales is published annually on the ONS website. The release includes a number of separate publications describing the main patterns and trends in the data accompanied by data tables. A data tool is also provided to allow users to explore data for police force areas in more detail.

How we review the data

The release on domestic abuse in England and Wales has been produced in response to a recommendation made by HMICFRS in their 2015 progress report on the police response to domestic abuse. It said that organisations should work together to “develop a dataset relating to domestic abuse, which will enable more thorough analysis of how domestic abuse is dealt with in a force area”.

User feedback has been obtained during its development through discussions with domestic abuse organisations, academics and police force staff.

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7. Other information

Useful links

Domestic abuse in England and Wales overview: November 2019
Bulletin | Released 25 November 2019
Figures on domestic abuse from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, police recorded crime and a number of different organisations.

Crime in England and Wales QMI
Methodology | Revised 18 July 2019
Provides a range of information that describes the quality of the data used in our regular publications.

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Contact details for this Methodology

Meghan Elkin
crimestatistics@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7592 8695