Domestic Violence

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 10th September 2018.

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Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne North

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to ensure special protection measures are implemented for all victims of domestic abuse across all UK jurisdictions.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I am only able to respond in relation to special measures that are available in criminal justice, family and civil proceedings in England and Wales.

In the criminal courts, complainants of offences which involve domestic abuse are eligible for special measures as ‘intimidated witnesses’ if the quality of their evidence is likely to be diminished by reason of fear or distress as a result of testifying in the proceedings. They may also be eligible as ‘vulnerable witnesses’ if they are under 18 or the quality of their evidence is likely to be diminished by reason of a mental or physical disability or disorder.

In the civil and family courts, parties can apply to the judge for protective measures such as screens and videolinks and over the last year staff have received training on providing additional measures such as separate entrances, exits and waiting rooms.

We are considering how best to build on the recent improvements we have made in this area and we have recently consulted on creating a legislative assumption that all victims of domestic abuse are eligible for assistance on the grounds of fear and distress in criminal proceedings. We have also sought views on what more the Government can do to support victims and will be publishing a formal response to the Consultation (Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse) in the autumn 2018.

The government has published its Victims Strategy, which commits to improving the support and protections available to all victims of crime.

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