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Research shows the cost of domestic violence has fallen

12/02/2009 14:08:09

Professor Sylvia Walby
Professor Sylvia Walby

The cost of domestic violence in lost economic output is down by nearly 30 per cent since 2001, according to updated research produced by Professor Sylvia Walby of Lancaster University.

The report was launched by the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV).

Attorney General Baroness Scotland QC said simple actions by employers could drive this down much further, to the benefit of both companies and individuals.

The new research shows that while the cost of domestic violence is still substantial, investment in public services is paying off for the economy, reducing the cost of lost economic output due to working days lost because of injuries from £2.7bn in 2001 to £1.9bn in 2008. The cost of public services has gone up - reflecting their improvement and increased user take up. As a consequence, the rate of domestic violence and its cost to business and society has fallen. The total cost of domestic violence fell from £22.8bn in 2001 to £15.7bn in 2008.

There are three major forms of cost: the cost of public services; human and emotional costs (quantified using methodology developed by the Department for Transport and the Home Office); and lost economic output.

Overall, these combined costs have fallen since 2001 because of the fall in the rate of domestic violence, due in part to the increased use and development of public services.

Baroness Scotland was speaking as the Chair of CAADV, which aims to assist employers to develop good practice to protect and support victims.

She said:“It is encouraging to see more evidence of how domestic violence policies and a coordinated community response are reducing the impact of this pernicious crime. But we clearly still have a long way to go.

“Enlightened employers are key partners in this endeavour. With many victims targeted in or around their workplace, it makes sense for employers to be aware of the issues and what they can do.

“But it is not only socially responsible for employers to address the issue of domestic violence, it makes good business sense as well.

“Some employers may think that putting domestic violence policies in place is difficult or might be unwelcome or intrusive. But there are simple, low-cost, practical actions that any employer can take which can make a big difference.”

Professor Walby, who undertook the research which updated her 2004 report The Cost of Domestic Violence, said: “The cost of domestic violence is still far too high, but the fall in the costs to business and society shows what can be achieved when effective policies are put in place. It is important to have the evidence and statistics of the extent and impact of domestic violence so that we can evaluate new developments reliably.”

Ben Willmott, Senior Public Policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “It's in employers' interests to consider developing a policy on domestic violence. Managers need to be able to identify the early warning signs that someone may be the victim of such abuse and then respond appropriately. Having a policy will also highlight to victims of domestic violence what support is available in the organisation - such as emergency leave, flexible working or counselling - and may encourage people to come forward and ask for help rather than suffering in silence."

Executive summary

While domestic violence is terrible enough in its own right to justify policy interventions, the scale of the costs aids the prioritisation of relevant policies. This report up-dates The Cost of Domestic Violence by Sylvia Walby published by the Women and Equality Unit, Department of Trade and Industry in 2004[1], from the year 2001 to 2008[2].

There are several reasons for changes to the estimates: a decrease in the rate of domestic violence[3]; greater use of public services by victims of domestic violence, as a result of their development; and technical adjustments due to inflation and to growth in GDP.

Cost of Domestic Violence, 2001, 2008

Costs 2001 £m

Costs 2008 £m




Economic Output



Human and emotional costs






There has been a reduction in the cost of lost economic output due to the decrease in the rate of domestic violence.

The cost of the lost economic output is restricted only to time off work due to injuries sustained as a result of domestic violence. While there are additional losses to productivity as a result of stress and reduced performance, such costs are additional to those included in this report.

The decrease in domestic violence has been achieved in part by the development of and increased utilisation of public services. For example, there are higher rates of reporting of domestic violence to the police and other services. This means that while the rate of domestic violence has been falling, the use and costs of public services have not declined. Indeed, as compared with 2001 these costs for 2008 are higher as a result of inflation. The costs for business and the wider society of domestic violence have declined as a result of the fall in the rate of domestic violence, due to better public services.

The investment in public services to reduce domestic violence has been cost effective for the country as a whole, reducing the extent of lost economic output as well as the human and emotional costs.

[1]The Cost of Domestic Violence by Sylvia Walby published by Women and Equality Unit in 2004 is available at:

[2] Thanks to Jo Armstrong and comments and help with data.

[3]Alison Walker, John Flatley, Chris Kershaw, and Debbie Moon (2009) Crime in England and Wales 2008/09 Volume 1 Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime.