From the TUC

Women, crime and inequality

09 Dec 2016, by in Society & Welfare

Official statistics show that you’re more likely to be a victim of violent crime or domestic abuse if you are a woman and if you live in a poorer part of the country. A woman living in one of the most deprived parts of the country is nearly four times as likely as a man in one of the least deprived areas to be a victim of intimate violence.

Today the government’s statistics office published the latest edition of their report on Domestic abuse in England and Wales, with figures up to the year ending in March 2016. If you aren’t aware of the scale of domestic violence there’s some disturbing numbers. For instance, police data show that 33 per cent – one in three – of crimes of violence against the person are flagged as domestic abuse-related. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows 1.8 million working age adults saying they experienced domestic violence in 2015-16 and nearly two thirds of them were women (1.2 million to 653,000).

I was very struck by the geographical prevalence of domestic abuse. Below, I’ve copied the ONS table for the domestic abuse rate in each police force area:


That looks to me like a clear social gradient, with a lower domestic abuse rate in better-off areas. It’s difficult to make an exact comparison because police force areas don’t always map local authority boundaries, and so I went scurrying back to the report on Intimate personal violence and partner abuse, published in March.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2014 – 15 found that 8.2 per cent of women and 4.0 per cent of men reported experiencing domestic abuse, that is non-sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner, non-sexual family abuse and sexual assault or stalking by a current or former partner or other family member. In all these categories, the biggest risk factor is being a woman, but living in a poor part of the country makes a difference too. Women in poor areas are twice as likely as those in less deprived parts of the country to suffer non-sexual abuse and a quarter more likely to be the victims of sexual assaults.


I have, from time to time, pointed out that women are the main losers from inequality and welfare cuts. Women have lower original incomes than men, in large part due to their association with children. The welfare state tries to make up for that inequality, which is why cuts to it hit women and children first. But the social stresses and strains caused by inequality also hit women, making them more likely to be victims of crime, especially the crimes committed in the home, where we can’t see what is happening.

3 Responses to Women, crime and inequality

  1. Heather Wakefield
    Dec 11th 2016, 6:41 am

    Hi Richard. Great blog. Thanks. Was just wondering about Hampshire, which is one of the more affluent areas I think? Also do you have stats for Berkshire, Bucks and Oxfordshire? Would be interested to see them.

  2. Ms wilkins
    Dec 11th 2016, 2:57 pm

    You don’t have to live in a deprived area to be a victim of domestic abuse nor even female. Someone who lives in a more affluent area is not less likely to be a victim of domestic abuse nor is a make, these people are probably more likely not to report it for the purpose of statistics. Maybe the woman does not want to lose her four bedroomed detached house and end up with her kids in a hostel. Maybe the man who is the victim can’t find a safe house due to there not being any safe houses for men. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone it does not discriminate.

  3. Richard Exell

    Richard Exell
    Dec 12th 2016, 10:31 am

    Dear Ms Wilkins

    Thanks for pointing out the fact that domestic abuse isn’t a crime that’s only committed by low-income men. Some men are victims as are many women from families that are not poor. I didn’t make this point in the post and I should have done.

    Although the chart shows, I think, a clear tendency for rates to be higher in poorer areas, this is a tendency, not an iron rule and the position of Hampshire is an illustration of this. (Heather, you might be interested in the statistics by police force area and CPS area in an Excel file at

    And, to remove any doubt, I do not blame working class men for all domestic violence. What I’m arguing is that intimate crimes and domestic abuse happen in the context of inequality (and structural sexism, I should have added) which means that people worried about these crimes should worry about cuts to the benefits and services that ameliorate inequality.