I have regular discussions with the DPP on a range of criminal matters. Domestic violence is a serious crime, which has real and lasting effects on the victim, their children, their wider family and society as a whole. I support the work undertaken by the CPS with other agencies to improve the way in which prosecutions are conducted and victims are treated in such cases.
The hon. Lady raises an important issue, of which we are extremely mindful. Work is currently taking place within the court estate rationalisation programme, working in conjunction with the domestic violence national steering group, to issue guidance in those areas where provision may be affected. The detail of that will be finalised once the decisions and announcements are made. The CPS is absolutely determined to maintain the current quality of provision.
The Attorney-General acknowledges that the domestic violence prosecution rate improved greatly under the last Labour Administration. What measures will he put in place to ensure that it continues to improve against the backdrop of the 25% cut to the CPS budget?
We are doing a number of things. We are developing the recently launched cross-Government violence against women strategic narrative. For the CPS, we agreed on a number of steps to improve domestic violence prosecutions and the safety and support of victims, including specialist co-ordinators, guidance in respect of stalking, effective monitoring of cases and legislation, and ways to improve communication with victims. In addition, guidance for prosecutors on stalking and harassment cases was launched in September 2010, and a new violence against women assurance regime was launched on 1 January 2011. As there is not enough time available now to allow me to amplify my remarks further, I will be happy to write to the hon. Gentleman with details of some of the things we are doing.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend do all he can to ensure that all Government agencies and Departments have a unified definition of domestic violence, as there seem to be alarming differences in that definition between different Departments, and that needs to be remedied at the earliest opportunity?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that to my attention. It might be helpful if I have a conversation with him so he can identify in greater detail where he thinks these current misdescriptions exist. I entirely agree that it is important that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.