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 System 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

  • The face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was suspended on 17 March 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) was specifically designed to allow us to continue measuring crime during this period.

  • Concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding limited the types of questions asked in the TCSEW, specifically those relating to domestic abuse. As a result, estimates are not available in the TCSEW in relation to the preferred measure of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

  • 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 Statistics, 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.

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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 provide a clearer understanding of the prevalence of domestic abuse, victim service provision and the criminal justice system’s response to both victims and perpetrators. We hope that this will enable appropriate action to be taken to improve victims’ experiences, and that knowing appropriate support is available will encourage more victims to report abuse.

The face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was suspended on 17 March 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) was specifically designed to allow us to continue measuring crime during this period. However, concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding limited the types of questions asked in the TCSEW, specifically those relating to domestic abuse. As a result, estimates are not available in the TCSEW in relation to the preferred measure of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Starting from October 2021 we are reintroducing the face-to-face CSEW. This will enable a return to full topic coverage, including collecting data relating to sexual victimisation and domestic abuse. The success of in-home face-to-face research over the coming months is an unknown. Therefore, the return of the CSEW is being carried out on an experimental basis. TCSEW telephone-based interviewing will continue to operate through the winter months to ensure the continuity of survey estimates during the year ending March 2022.

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

We publish data on domestic abuse in England and Wales on an annual basis. There is 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

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 Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) allowed us to continue measuring crime during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but it does not ask questions relating to domestic abuse because of confidentiality and safeguarding concerns. As a result, the Domestic abuse in England and Wales: November 2021 release does not include the preferred measure of domestic abuse so only provides a partial picture of domestic abuse
  • 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

Improvements to the Domestic abuse in England and Wales release

As part of ongoing work to improve our publications, the format of the domestic abuse release was changed in 2019. 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. Additionally, the measure of domestic abuse in the Crime Survey for England and Wales will be developed to better reflect lived experiences of domestic abuse victims.

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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 prevalence of domestic abuse, victim characteristics and 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. The release supports the UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign and the statistics are used to monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

See the Uses and users of the domestic abuse in England and Wales release in Section 4 for more information.

An interactive domestic abuse data tool 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.

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.

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.

Since the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was suspended in March 2020 the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) was designed to allow us to continue measuring crime during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding limited the types of questions asked in the TCSEW, specifically those relating to domestic abuse. As a result, estimates are not available in the TCSEW in relation to the preferred measure of domestic abuse and domestic violence, so this release only provides a partial picture of domestic abuse.

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

Coherence and comparability

The data included in the release come from several sources, so direct comparisons cannot be made between figures. This is because the way organisations collect data on domestic abuse can differ on timescales, reference periods and on methods of identification. 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.

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 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.

For most data sources, comparisons can be made over time. However, domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police can be affected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices. Comparisons of these 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. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse as any incident or pattern of incidents between those aged over 16 years 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
  • economic abuse
  • psychological, emotional, or other abuse

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 recognises children under the age of 18 years who see, or 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.

Geography

Data on domestic abuse are available at national level for England and Wales. Some datasets are also available at regional and 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 are 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 the Main data sources and their accuracy section.

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 data sources outlined in the Table 2.

Previous domestic abuse in England and Wales releases include analysis of data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). This covers adults aged 16 to 74 years who are resident in households in England and Wales and who completed the self-completion section of CSEW on domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.

The face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was suspended on 17 March 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Telephone CSEW was specifically designed to allow us to continue measuring crime during this period. However, concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding limit the types of questions asked in the TCSEW, specifically those relating to domestic abuse. As a result, estimates are not available in the TCSEW in relation to the preferred measure of domestic abuse.

Our Crime Statistics Quality and Methodology Information report contains further information on the TCSEW.

How we analyse and quality assure the data

The face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was suspended on 17 March 2020 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) was specifically designed to allow us to continue measuring crime during this period. However, concerns around confidentiality and respondent safeguarding limited the types of questions asked in the TCSEW, specifically those relating to domestic abuse.

In years prior to 2021, several methods were 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 datasets. 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 (PDF, 1.49MB) 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 2021
Bulletin | Released 24 November 2021
Figures on domestic abuse from police recorded crime and a number of different organisations.

Crime in England and Wales QMI
Methodology | Revised 22 July 2021
Provides a range of information that describes the quality of the data used in our regular publications.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Methodoleg

Meghan Elkin
crimestatistics@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 20 7592 8695