Domestic Abuse: Prosecutions

Justice – in the House of Commons on 8th February 2022.

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Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

What steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help increase the number of successful prosecutions for domestic abuse.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Deputy Prime Minister, The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

This Government are committed to bringing more perpetrators of domestic abuse to justice. It is a key plank of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which creates new offences such as non-fatal strangulation, and extends the coercive or controlling behaviour offence to include former partners.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

The excellent work the Government have done on domestic abuse risks being seriously undermined by recent reports of Met police conduct published by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. One officer who had attended a domestic abuse incident said of his victim that she was mad and deserved a slap. As Members of this House will know, that was the tip of the iceberg of the remarks uncovered. Police conduct is of course the subject matter of the Angiolini inquiry, but before that concludes, what work is my right hon. Friend doing with the Home Secretary to ensure that domestic abuse victims retain confidence in the criminal justice system?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Deputy Prime Minister, The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

I thank my hon. Friend, who is absolutely right. The remarks she cited are utterly abhorrent I would imagine to everyone on all sides of the House. The public rightly expect the behaviour of the police to be beyond reproach, which is why we have tasked the Angiolini inquiry, as she said. In addition to that work, as my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime and Policing set out last week, inspections are ongoing in forces across England and Wales to judge their vetting and counter-corruption capabilities. More broadly, we are of course taking forward the victims Bill consultation and we have increased funding for support services. They have actually increased to £185 million by 2024-25, which will help fund an increase—by about a half, up to 1,000—in the number of independent domestic abuse advisers. So we will keep showing zero tolerance of domestic abuse while those wider inquiries are ongoing.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Shadow Minister (Justice)

Domestic abuse victims face the trauma of first, gaining the courage to report it, fearing for themselves and their children’s safety, wondering whether they did the right thing and whether their truth will be believed, then they face this broken justice system: being cross-examined, questioned and treated like a criminal. With prosecutions collapsing and criminals being let off the hook, the Government cannot keep letting victims and survivors of domestic abuse down, so will the Secretary of State commit to putting in place a proper package of training, specialist support and trauma counselling for all victims of domestic abuse and their children?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Deputy Prime Minister, The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

I totally agree with the hon. Lady’s sentiment and frustration. We need to do more. We have got the local criminal justice scorecards, which will deal with not just wider crime, but rape. Those are coming up in the first quarter of this year. The victims strategy and the victims consultation will put victims at the centre of the justice system. That is important: I think it is a moral duty, but it will also make us more effective in delivering prosecutions. We also have a wider domestic abuse strategy, which will be outlined later in the year. As the hon. Lady knows, we have introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill an extension of the time limit for reporting domestic abuse and common assault and battery to give victims of domestic abuse longer to come forward with their claims and to prevent the perpetrators from finding themselves timed out.