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‘Timed out of justice:’ 13,000 domestic abuse cases dropped in past five years

by Bethany Rielly

DOMESTIC abuse survivors are being “timed out of justice,” charities warned today as new figures reveal a drastic increase in the number of cases being dropped. 

Police have just six months to charge common assault cases, including domestic abuse, from when the alleged incident took place.

Over the past five years, almost 13,000 such cases in England and Wales were dropped for this reason — an increase of 159 per cent —  according to figures obtained by the BBC. 

The fall in the number of charges being brought comes despite a 71 per cent increase in the number of assaults flagged as instances of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse charity refuge said this was wholly unacceptable and is calling for the time limit to be extended due to the complex nature of domestic abuse cases. 

“Refuge knows of the many barriers that women face when reporting domestic abuse to the police,” the charity’s CEO Ruth Davison said. 

“It can take many months and a lot of courage for women to feel able to come forward, yet many will never see justice being served.

“Women are being timed out of access to justice, and that is neither fair nor acceptable.”

She added that police are routinely failing women, with dismissive attitudes and delays to investigations commonplace. 

Domestic abuse survivor Erica Osakwe said that her case was mishandled and delayed resulting in no charges being brought. 

“The experience made me feel like my story wasn’t valid, like the police didn’t believe I was a victim,” said Ms Osakwe, who is the founder of campaign group Victims Too. 

A government spokesman said: “All allegations should be investigated and pursued rigorously through the courts where possible, and there is no time limit on reporting crimes such as bodily harm or those that add up to coercive behaviour.”

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