ESRC digs in


ESRC digs in


ESRC defends radfem “research” methodology.



Economic & Social Research Council

Phone 01793 413008

[+44 1793 413008]


Fax 01793 413005


Polaris House,

North Star Avenue,

Swindon SN2 1UJ,


22 January 2002

…. ….


Dear Mr Catt,

I write to respond formally to the complaint which you sent us on 29 October 2001, in which you claimed that Professor Betsy Stanko had falsified a (research) result, namely that 1 in 4 women experience Domestic Violence in the home. Subsequent correspondence made it clear that the source of the complaint was a publication entitled “Counting the Costs”, jointly authorised by Professor Betsy Stanko with D.Crisp, C.Hale and H.Lucraft, published in 1998 by Crime Concern. Since then we have been reviewing the publication carefully. To do so, we have taken advantage of your agreement [actually my proposal – IC] that we could extend beyond our normal deadline for handling complaints.

I must first point out that the research for “Counting the Costs” was not funded by the Council, nor was the publication. This is a simple statement of fact, not to be taken as any comment on the publication itself. Having looked very carefully at the work, I cannot find any grounds for supporting the view that findings in the report are falsified. In fact the report is very careful to set out its methodology and the basis for its conclusion, and does so in transparent detail. There seems therefore to be absolutely no case for this to be seen as falsification and I cannot therefore accept your complaint.

Yours sincerely,

[signed] Chris Caswill

Director of Research


[I told Caswill that I rested my case on the following document from Ill Eagle 4, sep99. Does Stanko stand by the “1 in 4” figure? Ask her. She is at tel 01895 203068 or 203085

  – Ivor Catt]


From Ill Eagle 4, sep99, p4. At



Much of our work is investigative. It has to be. Newspapers today have largely become mere conduits for 'official briefings'. With notable exceptions, they and by-line journalists; pawns in a political game of bluff reduced to testing the water for Govt policy manoeuvrings that will hit us a few months down the line. Scouring the Internet we downloaded on June 30th information from the Cabinet Office re. domestic violence ( 'Organisational Index'   choose 'Cabinet Office' choose 'What's New' - 30.6.99 Press Release).

This reported the joint Ministerial launch by the Home Office (HO) and the Women's Unit - but it appeared to omit certain key statistics, namely HO study 191.  However, it did quote a study by 'Stanko et al', which claimed that 1/. Domestic Violence costs £278 million pounds in London alone and 2/. Govt sources or  'official' Govt figures showed that 1 in 4 women suffer domestic violence. All the national newspapers picked up and quoted these 'official' Govt figures.

Having debunked the 1 in 4 figure in the summer of 1998 (See last issue [at ]) we promptly made enquires at the Home Office. They were evasive as to the veracity of the "official figures", stating they hadn't come from them. They did however direct us to "Stanko et al" as Prof. Stanko at Brunel.

Prof. Stanko replied by email; "I will forward you a copy of the report 'counting the costs'…. As for the figures used by the Cabinet Office [in "Press Release" above], there is no citation for that figure in the report.  I suggest you contact the Women's Unit directly as I only received my copy of the document this week. I did not write it". But Counting the Costs is written by Prof. Stanko together with 3 other female authors, and it does cite the "1 in 4" totem.  It is published by Crime Concern and funded by the Children Society and Hackney Safer Cities.

The so-called "survey", of only 107 postal respondees to agencies and 129 women in GP's surgeries, is loose, lightweight and limited, but still manages to stretch to 70 pages. By the time the reader gets to page 9 it is blatantly apparent that this is a document based on speculation, estimates and assumptions. From the beginning, is piles estimate upon estimate, guess upon guess, making magical intellectual leaps between them to arrive where the dogma says they should be, i.e. p 16. Domestic violence is defined throughout the paper as only women (and sometimes children) as victims.

Our understanding, from the Home Office, is that domestic violence is not actually a criminal offence, but the report states that it is (p 17).

Of the 107 postal surveys sent out to public service providers, only 49 were returned with some information on them, 23 resulted in no response at all and 29 were not completed. Those "key agencies" targeted also produced only 32 vague data on "the global cost" of their operations, 7 provided unit costs and with regard to number of clients only 10 knew the exact number or could estimate the ratio of domestic violence to clients (whatever that means).

"Key agencies" were defined as the police, solicitors, housing dept. Women's Aid, Social Services, GP's, health visitors.

The report is fond of using the word "trawl" to imply a thorough examination e.g. its trawl through local authority and agency files.

Unfortunately for the researchers, many key agencies replied that domestic violence "was not a primary presenting problem" and few incorporated it into their daily practice monitoring framework (p 8). Indeed, at page 44 they concede "that some case studies" may not be thought to "represent true domestic violence".

This inflammatory report is based on Hackney. Hackney is not typical of England. 46% of its population subsists on Income Support (State Benefits). The average income of the rest of London is 66% greater than that of Hackney. Over 65% of housing in Hackney is "social housing". In the past it has been the stomping ground of villains like Jack the Ripper and multifarious gangsters e.g. the Kray Twins. The area is a melting pot of over 10 nationalities multiplied by as many cultures.

The survey reveals that except for Women's Aid and the Domestic Violence Housing Service, none of the public service providers (Social Services, Police, etc) could estimate the cost of domestic violence. Nor could they estimate the prevalence of clients that "present" themselves for help.

 In 1996 the police introduced CRIS (Crime Report Information System) which has a mechanism for highlighting particular crimes e.g. domestic violence. But because of "teething troubles" and the fact that they were "acutely aware" that police figures would be "conservative", the Stanko team had to estimate again. The team also realised they had no way of  knowing or even estimating the cost in educational terms of domestic violence, but they nonetheless were soon able "to generate local  estimates".

Citing the 1993 Home Affairs Select Committee on domestic violence, which concludes that domestic violence was common and the Assoc. of Chief police Officers evidence that domestic violence is "not based on either reliable or accurate data", the report continues to assert that it is grossly under-recorded. However, they concede that while nearly a third of domestic violence incidents resulted in victims seeking medical support, only 3% actually sought hospital attention. This would seem to underscore the proposition that seeking medical care, if not for police purposes, is purely an emotional prop.

At page 13 of Counting the Costs we read of earlier surveys into this field. Beginning with estimates from the British Crime Survey (1996) it moves on to Mooney's 1994 survey in Islington (less than 500) which found that 37% of women reported some form of domestic violence and 1 in 4 reported being injured from domestic violence in their lifetime - which is a meaningless statistic.

Painter's survey of 1,000 women; one in eight said they had been raped while married.

McGibbon et al survey (1989) (less than 500) in Hammersmith showed that of 281 respondees 39% had experience verbal or physical abuse by a partner.

Dominy and Radford (1996) - a survey of less than 500 - found that they had to add in a significant number of women who had suffered domestic violence where the women themselves (15%) did not view it as such. Of the above, only Mooney's was randomly distributed.

All research, the report concludes, shows that its findings that 1 in 4 experience some form of domestic violence in their life time and between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 in the current year, "echoed" the work of other researchers and Women's Aid.

Significantly, Stanko et al. state; "Perhaps more disconcerting is the number of women who continue to maintain their silence about their experiences, or those who, when they spoke to someone, were not heard". This is difficult to credit, given the setting  and antics of "Eastenders".

One 70 year old who responded to the GP questionnaire said "  .. In old age sexual violence becomes mental cruelty. Weak shits remain weak shits".

It would be more accurate and trebly difficult (if not ideologically impossible) for 'Stanko et al" to come to the same conclusion about men who suffer domestic violence.

Of dubious interest is the assertion that domestic violence is a feature in 1 in 3 instances of separation or divorce (Hester 1996). It will take more research to find out whether that is true of only cohabitees, or of married couples that separate and divorce. Actually, as we all know, allegations of violence during divorce proceedings, which cannot be countered in our courts, are merely a mechanism to validate the confiscation of a husband's home and children.