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Domestic Violence: Prosecution of Cases

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the effectiveness of the CPS in prosecuting cases involving domestic violence.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

The Crown Prosecution Service takes domestic abuse cases extremely seriously and is determined to bring perpetrators to justice and to provide victims with the greatest possible protection from repeat offending. In 2019, the CPS led the implementation of a national domestic abuse best practice framework for magistrates court cases, which aims to ensure consistent good practice from investigation right through to court by criminal justice agencies involved in domestic abuse casework.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

I have previously mentioned the shocking statistic that Hull has enough domestic abuse perpetrators to fill our football stadium, which holds 25,000 people. Some 746,000 domestic abuse crimes have been recorded nationally, which is up 24% in a year. However, referrals from the police to the CPS have gone down by 11%. Will the Minister explain what he intends to do about that?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

Before I answer, may I take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. Lady on her damehood? It is richly deserved. She asks an important question. National implementation in this area is overseen at a multi-agency level, and it is a priority for the Government and the CPS to work to improve the statistics. There has actually been a 21.6% rise in prosecutions for violence against women and girls, an increase in charging and prosecution of offences of stalking—80% of stalking cases happen in a domestic abuse context—and a rise in prosecutions for controlling and coercive behaviour. However, I accept that more needs to be done, and that is a priority for the Government and the CPS.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

The CPS’s ability to successfully prosecute offences of domestic violence, or indeed any offence, is being undermined by prisoners not being produced at court—a trial at the Old Bailey has sat idle for two days this week for that reason. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that more needs to be done to hold those responsible for such an important job to account so that courts are not lying idle, affecting victims and witnesses? Frankly, it is a crazy situation that is not fair on the taxpayer.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

That is a very good point, and my hon. Friend has considerable experience of prosecutions and the court system. The reality is that we expect those who are responsible for delivering defendants to court to do so efficiently, and of course, in the vast majority of cases, they do that. If there are cases that he wishes to bring to my attention so that I can make direct inquiries, he should please do so.