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Domestic Violence

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

17. If she will meet the stronger families project in Nottingham to discuss means of increasing the rate of prosecution in domestic violence cases. (301682)

I should be very happy to look at that very good early-intervention project, whose aim is to help young children who would otherwise suffer trauma as a result of their experiences of domestic violence.

As I am sure my hon. Friend knows, we continue to work to improve prosecution performance in this area. The number of domestic violence prosecutions undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service has risen from nearly 35,000 in 2004-05 to nearly 68,000 now, and the proportion of successful cases has risen from 55 per cent. to 72 per cent. over the same period.

The perpetrators of domestic violence include a high percentage of cowards and bullies, even in comparison with the perpetrators of other criminal offences. Those two groups are particularly susceptible to a strong, clear message from Government about the consequences of their actions, but the performance indicators in the local area agreement relating to domestic violence have been dropped, and there has been a resulting drop in detection in the Nottingham area. Will my hon. and learned Friend emphasise once again how important the Government consider this offence, and will she consider again the possibility of restoring the performance indicators?

I cannot emphasise too strongly how important the Government consider prosecuting domestic violence. My hon. Friend was good enough to tell me that he was worried about the removal of the sanction detection count rate, and about the possibility that it had had a bad effect on arrest rates. I have looked into the matter for him, and have established that although sanction detection rates are no longer a target, they are still counted in Nottingham. The figures that I have found do not quite agree with those that he has given. As there is no offence of domestic violence, it is quite difficult to quantify it in the terms to which he has referred. However, if he is not satisfied with my answer, I shall be happy to meet him, and I should also be very pleased to visit Nottingham.