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Domestic Violence

Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 22 June 2010

May I begin by congratulating the hon. Gentleman on his election?

The Government take domestic violence very seriously. The Law Officers support the work that the Crown Prosecution Service is undertaking to increase the rate of prosecution in such cases. The increase in the provision of specialist domestic violence courts, the training of all CPS prosecutors in domestic violence cases and improvements in support and safety for victims have all led to an increase in the rate of prosecutions leading to a conviction. The CPS works with other agencies to ensure that, where possible, the evidence is available to prosecute such cases effectively.

Has any additional consideration been given to making special provisions for children where cases of domestic violence occur in settings where children are present or where children are victims or witnesses to acts of violence in their own homes?

It is estimated that about 750,000 children witness domestic violence during any given year. Clearly, a great deal needs to be done to ensure not only that those children are protected, but that, if appropriate, they can give evidence in courts in such a way that does not frighten them and that leads to proper convictions being arrived at. The hon. Gentleman makes a good point that will certainly be considered further.

It depends on what my hon. Friend means by the phrase “recourse to public funds”. A number of victims will be protected or assisted by independent domestic violence advisers. We now have 141 specialist domestic violence courts. As she will know from her private practice as a family lawyer, people can be assisted in a number of ways. The main thing is to ensure that they know what is available and that they can be assisted before, during and after the court hearing.