During the year ending March 2007, a conviction was recorded in Nottinghamshire on Crown Prosecution Service figures in respect of 60.7 per cent. of all defendants whose case got as far as the CPS for an offence of rape, and in 59.5 per cent. in the cases of domestic violence. Nottinghamshire’s outcome in cases of rape compared favourably with the national figure of 54.5 per cent, but in cases of domestic violence the conviction rate was short of the national figure of 65 per cent.
Those are improving figures; congratulations to all involved. However, it remains the case that many women who appear before court feel that they are the accused rather than the victim. In that context, will my hon. and learned Friend look at the case about which I have just written to her concerning a constituent in Edwinstowe who has had that very experience?
I certainly will and I have just received a letter from my hon. Friend about the case. He raises a problematic issue: the extent to which cross-examination should be allowed. Obviously, there must be a balance between the freedom for the defendant to test the case against him and his not being inappropriately oppressive and re-traumatising the victim. Judges and magistrates have a duty to control proceedings and to stop over-oppressive cross-examination. Our prosecutors now have a duty to do that as well. I will certainly look at the file about the case and I invite him to come and discuss it with me.