Clause 7 - Establishment and conduct of reviews

Part of Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 24th June 2004.

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Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North 3:00 pm, 24th June 2004

Thank you, Mr. Benton, for allowing me to raise a few further issues. One is the role of the voluntary sector, on which we have already had some debate. In the domestic homicide review carried out in Cardiff, the voluntary sector did not simply contribute information; it played

a crucial role, because the review was chaired jointly by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the police. The report was written by the NSPCC, and Women's Aid and Cardiff women's safety unit were part of the information-gathering group.

I understand why the voluntary organisations are not listed in the Bill, but will the Solicitor-General comment on the fact that the NSPCC played such a crucial role in the Cardiff review and wrote the report? Those who took part in the review felt that the NSPCC contributed enormously and that agencies could take part in a way that would not have been possible if the review had been led by a statutory agency. The voluntary sector has gone beyond being a partner and giving information in some cases, so how will it fit into the reviews when they become statutory? Will the reviews still be able to be carried out in that way? All those taking part and I felt that the voluntary sector was able to play a constructive role.

My second point, which relates to the cost of the review, was also made by the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan). I have experience of only the one review, but that took more than 12 months and an enormous amount of the time on the part of the professionals and voluntary bodies involved. They did it as part of their job, but, in view of the number of reviews that will have to take place, I wonder whether it is possible at this stage to cost them. I should also welcome some comments on the costings and how the voluntary bodies, which play such a major role in the reviews, can be helped.

My third point relates to restorative justice. In the example that I gave earlier of the woman who had been battered to death by her partner, the victim's family felt strongly that the case should be used to help to stop such a thing happening to anybody else; they wanted me to use her case in any discussions. The help that is given to the families of the victim, and perhaps of the perpetrator, is important, because we must remember that families will find it difficult to understand why the incident happened. A review will help both sets of families involved in such appalling tragedies.