The measurement of domestic abuse – redeveloping the Crime Survey for England and Wales

Marianne Hester*, Sarah-Jane Walker, Andy Myhill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In 2020 the UK Office for National Statistics commissioned the research
reported here to review the current questions on domestic abuse in the CSEW and to establish how better data for policy and practice might be produced. The Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW) is a representative population survey that since the early 2000s has provided ongoing measurement of domestic violence via a dedicated domestic violence module, with regular publication of headline prevalence and other descriptive data. At the same time the measurement of domestic violence in the CSEW has also been the subject of ongoing debate and critique, in particular whether it is appropriate to use catch-all prevalence measures in the context of policy, practice and commissioning of services.
Method: The research included analysis of CSEW user survey data (N=39), focus
group and individual interviews with male and female victims/survivors (N=11),
consultation with core stakeholders (N=18), and consideration of international surveys and recent legislation.
Results: Current CSEW questions do not capture domestic abuse accurately or reflect lived experience, coercive control needs to be seen at the core of domestic abuse, and while physical assault is an important part of measuring domestic abuse establishing frequency through counting events is probably impossible.
Conclusion: A fundamental rethink of the current CSEW self-completion module is
required, with a wider set of questions about domestic abuse and impact. A revised module should identify and provide estimation of prevalence for different ‘abuse profiles’ that would complement improved headline measures and better inform policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1093
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Gender and Violence Research


  • domestic violence
  • domestic abuse
  • prevalence measure
  • impact
  • victim and stakeholder consultation


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