Examination of Witness

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:29 am on 29th October 2019.

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Nicole Jacobs:

I would say a couple of things. There are some criminal justice elements in the Bill. Making those robust and effective is not necessarily to do with locking people up but about ensuring that the criminal justice system is working in the way that it should and that is set out. I believe that one of the things we do not do enough is to prioritise multi-agency working around the courts system. In the area I have come from, we have specialist courts. We have a court management group, which is all the criminal justice partners and the specialist service, and they can collectively remember and problem solve around the mistakes that they inevitably may be making. That is not intentional; sometimes it is to do with the bulky way that our criminal justice system works. In terms of holding perpetrators to account, I suppose the one thing I would really encourage the Committee to consider is in what ways, in piloting the DVPOs, we could consider what helps to make the implementation work. We should not just say, “Are the police doing it or not?”, as if it is down to one entity; it has to be the whole of the criminal justice system working.

Having said that—I talked about the duty—I believe there is very little consistency in terms of enabling people to engage and change their behaviour. I would include that in the broadening of the statutory duty. Again, you will hear later from Jo Todd, who is much more of an expert than me, about the breadth of service. There is a perpetrator strategy that many organisations have signed up to that I am very interested in, and which I am sure you will have sight of or will perhaps be given in written evidence. I would stand behind that type of strategy, which is about prevention, provision of service and what I would call incentives to change—both carrots and sticks. What do we do to really have the breadth of provision that we need? Of all the domestic abuse provision, that is probably the most patchy in terms of where you could find places to change.