According to recent data published by the ONS, an estimated 5.7% of adults (2.4 million) experienced domestic abuse in the past year. There was no significant change in the prevalence of domestic abuse experienced in the last year compared with the year ending March 2018. This is according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2019.
The report does admit that: "Domestic abuse is often a hidden crime that is not reported to the police. Therefore, data held by the police can only provide a partial picture of the actual level of domestic abuse experienced. Many cases will not enter the criminal justice process as they are not reported to the police."
However, one of the strengths of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is that it covers many crimes that are not reported to the police. The CSEW provides reliable estimates of the prevalence of domestic abuse using a consistent methodology that is not affected by changes in recording practices and police activity, or by changes in the propensity of victims to report to the police. While the CSEW provides the best available estimate of trends in the prevalence of domestic abuse, it cannot be used to make any inferences about demands on the police.
There were a total of 1,316,800 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in the year ending March 2019 (an increase of 118,706 from the previous year). Of the domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes recorded in the year ending March 2019, 570,581 (43%) were incidents not subsequently recorded as a crime. The remaining 746,219 were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes (57% of the total number of incidents and crimes).
In the previous year, the police recorded 599,549 domestic abuse-related crimes. This amounted to 50% of all domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes recorded by the police. This equates to a volume increase of 146,670 (24%) domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales between the year ending March 2018 and the year ending March 2019.
Some of this increase may be, in part, driven by general police improvements in offence-recording practices, as well as an increase in domestic abuse-related incidents coming to the attention of the police. The increase could also indicate an increased willingness of victims to come forward to report domestic abuse. This reasoning is supported by the contrasting findings in the Crime Survey of no change in victim numbers (see section on Crime Survey for England and Wales shows no change in domestic abuse prevalence for more information).
You can read the report in full here.