A safe, just and equal world for women

Advance calls for the criminal justice system to stop failing women

February 26, 2024
A hard-hitting report by domestic abuse charity Advance reveals that women are failed at every stage of the criminal justice system and is calling for drastic change.

Her Story, Her Justice shines a spotlight on each juncture where survivors of domestic abuse are let down – from the minute they report abuse to the police, through to a traumatising and often unsuccessful prosecution process as they seek justice and protection through the courts.

The shameful fact is that 96% of domestic abuse crimes do NOT result in a prosecution. Even in cases where prosecution is successful, Advance has found that survivors often receive inadequate information and protection following their abuser’s conviction.

These failures are a key reason why prosecutions and convictions have been on the downslide since 2015, says Advance. In 2023, there were nearly 300,000 more reports of domestic abuse-related crimes to the police than in 2018. Yet, in that same period there were nearly 40,000 fewer prosecutions by the CPS – and less than 5% of reported crimes lead to a prosecution.

Advance’s CEO, Liz Mack, explains:
“We must shine a light on the shockingly low rate of prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse, and the re-traumatisation of women during the fractured and protracted criminal justice process, in order to campaign for urgent change. With this national campaign we will highlight the systemic failures which are preventing women from seeing justice.”
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, says:
“Domestic abuse is a devastating and widespread crime, making up one in six reports to the police. Yet as Her Story, Her Justice makes clear, victims and survivors are still being failed at every stage of the criminal justice system.

“We’re constantly asking ourselves how criminal justice system can improve. In this report you have the insight of frontline staff that have been working on the ground for years to do just that: improve criminal justice outcomes for victims and survivors.

“This is exactly the kind of information that should be in front of every criminal justice leader as they work to bring our system up to a standard that victims and survivors can believe in.

“It’s time government and policing leaders to get to grips with this very serious problem. This report gives vital insights from the front line and a blueprint to make that a reality.”

Advance service user Kristina, said: 
“The onus is always on the woman: Why did you stay? Why did you have a second baby? And then, during the trial, I felt like the onus was on me again, to get all the evidence I needed. The police weren’t helping me. That’s not to say all police are bad – a lot of them want to do the right thing, but their hands are tied by red tape. But at a time when you’re in a terrible state, and so stressed, you’re having to pull everything together and figure out how the system works. It’s cruel.”

Advance, which supports women who’ve experienced domestic abuse and/or have engaged with the criminal justice system is demanding urgent action to improve the criminal justice response to survivors of domestic abuse.

Her Story, Her Justice is campaigning for a raft of recommended changes that Advance says will greatly improve outcomes for women who are brave enough to report their abuser.

Key to the charity’s recommendations are specific responses for women affected by domestic abuse which include:

  • Access to specialist Criminal Justice IDVAs (Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors) in all police stations or court settings.
  • Recognition and accreditation of Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts which must be rolled out nationally.
  • Access to specialist, long-term, community-based support which meets all needs of victims/survivors.
You can find out more on Politics London: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001wttf/politics-london-25022024

Read Her Story, Her Justice report


Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Tracie Couper, Press Officer at Advance, at tracie.c@advancecharity.org.uk or on 0743 2700 287.

Notes to the editor 
  •  1 in 4 women will be victims of domestic abuse in their lifetime. The government estimates that 1.4m women per year experience abuse.
  • Community-based support is required for 95% of women seeking domestic abuse services.
  • Advance research highlights that the majority of survivors need support outside of crisis-based accommodation, with 89% presenting with health and well-being needs and 51% reporting problematic substance use.
  • Advance employs independent advocates who provide direct one-to-one assistance to women. Many of these support workers are co-located in different services, like hospitals, police stations and housing services. This means professionals in these agencies have an on-site specialist who can work directly with women in need, respond to crises, support colleagues, and improve referral pathways to other support services.
About Advance
  • Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. The charity works with women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives, and women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle.
  • As well as providing direct support, Advance works with statutory services, government agencies and other women’s charities to ensure a holistic approach to the issues these women face.
  • Women must be referred to Advance, via statutory services or the charity’s self-referral scheme. For more information about who Advance is able to support, please visit Get help 
  •  For facts and statistics about domestic abuse and women in the criminal justice system, as well as Advance’s work, please visit Our impact 



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