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Domestic and Sexual Violence

Volume 528: debated on Tuesday 24 May 2011

1. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the provision of specialist domestic and sexual violence services to support prosecutions involving allegations of such offences. (56989)

I have not held specific discussions with ministerial colleagues on the provision of domestic and sexual violence services to support prosecutions. The Solicitor-General is a member of the inter-ministerial group on violence against women and girls, which is responsible for monitoring progress against its action plan. This action plan identifies the importance of support for victims of violence against women.

I know that the Attorney-General has recognised the importance of specialist services in pushing up prosecution rates. Does he share my concern about the cuts to these services up and down the country? If so, what is he doing about it?

It is worth bearing in mind the fact that the Department for Communities and Local Government has secured £6.5 billion of funding for the Supporting People programme, which will include accommodation for vulnerable people, including domestic violence victims, over the next four years. That equates to an average annual reduction over the four years of less than 1% in cash terms. In addition, I can reassure the hon. Lady that the issue continues to be a high priority for the Crown Prosecution Service and the police. The evidence to date suggests that despite the difficult financial climate, the success rate for prosecuting this type of offence continues to improve.

Will the Attorney-General agree that, contrary to recent media distortion, Members on both sides of the House take crimes of violence against women very seriously indeed? Will he further assure the House that the Government will continue to support alleged victims of rape and that he will do all he can to ensure that justice is done in cases that are often very difficult to prosecute?

I can assure my hon. Friend that that is the position. The provision of specialist co-ordinators and rape prosecutors, the issuing of stalking guidance and the effective monitoring of the measures we have put in place will continue. As I said in answer to the earlier question, the evidence suggests that the good work done by the previous Government is being successfully continued. I want to emphasise that both in terms of the volume of prosecutions and their success rate.