top of page

United Kingdom

Population size: 

66,834,405 (2019) [1]

Number of people experiencing domestic abuse each year:

In England and Wales, year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the previous 12 months. [2]

In Scotland, the police recorded 60,641 incidents of domestic abuse in 2018-19, of which 83% of victims were female. [3]

In Northern Ireland: There were 31,682 domestic abuse incidents recorded in 2018/19, of which 69% of victims were female. [4]

Cost of domestic abuse to the economy each year:

Domestic violence alone costs approximately $32.9 billion in England and Wales. [5]

Estimated % change due to COVID-19:

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the difficulties faced by domestic abuse victims has been exposed, as well as the government strengths and failures to tackle a rise in numbers. “The pandemic has exposed longstanding flaws in the UK government’s approach to domestic violence,” said Hillary Margolis, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch." [6]

The UK government introduced emergency funding for victims, "Communities Secretary announces £76 million extra funding to support survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery", specifically £28 million for domestic services. [7]

The charity Refuge reported on May 27 that average weekly calls and contacts to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for England and Wales had risen by 66 percent and visits to the website – where people can request a safe time to be contacted – had jumped by 950 percent compared with levels before the pandemic.

Current law and policy:

England and Wales are in the process of passing a Domestic Abuse Bill through Parliament which will offer additional and specific protections to survivors of domestic abuse and create the role of ‘Domestic Abuse Commissioner’ to consider future legislation that interrelates with domestic abuse. Scotland passed its Domestic Abuse Act in 2018. Northern Ireland has not commenced the task of writing a Domestic Abuse Bill.

Whilst the Domestic Abuse Bill reflects significant gains won, the House of Commons voted to exclude migrants and refugees from its provision. This is a group of people who are more vulnerable to abuse and so the Bill should offer them equal protection if it is to protect all people experiencing domestic abuse.

In addition, there is no mandated commitment for employers to recognise their duties in respect of domestic abuse happening to their employees or where an employee is targeted at a workplace.

In terms of policy, in England, through the “Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls” strategy, the Government has committed around GBP £40 million as stable funding for specialist services; piloted new ways of protecting victims of domestic violence; and launched national prevention campaigns to tackle rape and relationship abuse and is planning to criminalize forced marriage.

The Government has further supported the devolution of power to local decision-makers, who are best-placed to commission and provide services to victims; and have highlighted innovation and new approaches – in particular preventative approaches that break the cycle of violence and stop violence against women and girls. 

In relation to its devolved administrations, the Welsh Government has in place a six-year integrated strategy ‘Right to be Safe’ for tackling violence against women and domestic abuse. Voluntary organizations and Community Safety Partnerships who provide domestic abuse support services across Wales received over £4 million in 2012-13 to deliver and support this Strategy. The Welsh Government has also recently consulted on ground-breaking legislation for ending violence against women, domestic abuse, and sexual violence in Wales. The white paper proposals are intended to improve leadership and accountability, improve education and awareness and strengthen services in Wales. 

Northern Ireland has a joint action plan to progress their inter-agency domestic and sexual violence strategies. A Routine Enquiry has been introduced into all maternity units aimed at identifying domestic violence. Also, a scheme allowing victims of domestic violence to access legal aid quickly has been introduced, allowing victims to apply for a non-molestation order and obtain the protection they need. [8]

Frontline Services:



[1] The World Bank, (1).

[2] 1.6 million women and 786,000 men). Office of National Statistics.

[8] UN Women, (10).



bottom of page