THE number of people charged with domestic abuse in Oxfordshire appears to have fallen during this summer's lockdown – despite the number of reports going up.

Thames Valley Police said it received 3,777 reports of domestic abuse in the county between March 23 and July 3 this year – 400 more than the same period last year.

Of those reports, 2,050 were classified by police as crimes – but police only made 157 charges.

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Last year, by comparison, the force received 400 fewer reports (3,377), documented about 548 fewer crimes (1,502), but brought 18 more charges (175 charges).

That means that last year 11.7 per cent of domestic crime reports resulted in prosecution, but this year the figure has fallen to just 7.7 per cent.

The force has said it works extensively across the region to help victims of domestic abuse, and one charity has highlighted how difficult it can be to bring prosecutions in such cases.

Aside from those reports treated as crimes, 1,727 of the 3,777 reports of domestic abuse in the county made during this summer's lockdown were classified as 'non-crime occurrences' – 45.7 per cent.

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Police might use this classification when an alleged victim refuses to confirm a crime, or when they cannot find an alleged victim.

In a statement, Thames Valley Police said: “The reason why there were more charges last year is that the charge data only relates to those offences recorded during the period, and therefore we have had an additional twelve months to finalise the offences.  

“Overall, it is often too early to compare outcomes (charges) within such a short time frame as some investigations can take a lot longer than four months particularly in the more serious and complex crimes such as sexual assault and domestic offences.  Offenders are often bailed in order for further enquiries to be completed such as witness statements, CCTV enquiries, forensic results and examining mobile phones.

“The figures presented reflect a very small period and the two periods are naturally difficult to compare as one reflects the normal year of 2019 in Oxfordshire and the 2020 dates reflect the first lockdown period. 

“In relation to the two specified crime types, the sexual offences during the period reduced in number.  The number of charges correlate with this reduction in offences, whilst also recognising there is over six months of work to complete before we are able to compare it to the previous year.

“With regard the domestic offences (of which sexual offending is one type), the increase in offending reflects the lockdown restrictions and increase in domestics that were reported nationally but also due to better recording processes.”

Trish Walsh, who is a trainer at the independent domestic violence charity Reducing the Risk, said that it can sometimes be extremely difficult to get domestic abuse cases to trial.

She said: "Anything investigated by the specialist Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit (DAIU) has a better chance of getting to trial.

"The DAIU do a great job at keeping victims on board to trial, but with uniform police it is harder because they work in shifts and to keep in contact with the victim it can take months.

"With lower level crimes such as harassment and coercive control, it is a pattern of conduct and how do you charge a pattern of conduct?"

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Ms Walsh explained that, if a rape or wounding had occurred, this would count as 'one incident' and all the evidence would be given about that 'one incident', 'but with a charge of conduct it is hard to decide what you can show the jury to prove the case'.

She added: "Our hardest job is keeping the victims on board, and if we can get them to court, particularly to the magistrates' court, the perpetrator will plead guilty 90 per cent of the time."

Jo Evans, head of operations (care and support) at A2Dominion – a charity which runs a helpline for domestic abuse victims in Oxfordshire – said: “This year we have unfortunately seen an increase in people experiencing domestic abuse across Oxfordshire.

"By adapting our services in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, we’ve been able to deliver vital support and refuge spaces to everyone who has needed it during an especially challenging time.

"To anyone experiencing domestic abuse, what you are going through is not your fault, and you can leave home to seek support.

"We can help support you with practical advice and support via our helpline and a safe place to live if you need to leave your home."

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A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: "Throughout lockdown and outside of it, Thames Valley Police has continued to reach out to victims of domestic abuse and support those that have got in touch to make a report to us.

“We have also worked extensively with our partners across the Thames Valley to make sure that those that need help and support know where and how they can get it.

“Tackling domestic abuse is a priority at all times.

"It is important to highlight the ways people can report domestic abuse even if they are trapped with their abuser, such as pressing 55 when ringing 999 which means the operator will hear the button press and raise the alarm without the victim having to speak."

If you are feeling threatened you can visit, or contact the helpline on 0800 731 0055.

You can also contact Reducing the Risk at

If you are in immediate danger call 999.