The Home Office chaired a meeting with the former Director of Public Prosecutions in September. This has led to a six-point plan to increase the number of referrals from the police to the Crown Prosecution Service. I am meeting the new Director of Public Prosecutions this week to discuss what more we can do to secure more convictions. However, it should be noted that last year saw the highest ever conviction rate for domestic violence prosecutions.
I thank the Minister for that answer. However, as we know from the crime survey, instances of domestic violence are increasing quite dramatically at the moment, and there has been a 13% fall in the number of cases referred to the CPS from the police since the election. Is a six-point plan really enough to tackle this serious problem?
I agree that it is a serious problem, and that is why the Home Secretary and I have been working to deal with it. The six-point plan includes Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary looking specifically at police referrals to the CPS, reviewing the use of out-of-court disposals for these cases, and convening a national scrutiny panel to look at the trends in, for example, rape referral levels. We are taking these matters very seriously. As I said, I am meeting the DPP this week.
I welcome the Government’s decision last week to introduce Clare’s law and, in parallel, domestic violence protection orders. Does the Minister agree that those two steps will do a great deal to protect women against domestic violence?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and welcome the action she has taken for a long time on these matters. The pilot schemes for both Clare’s law and the protection orders demonstrated that they were useful. They were well used in the pilot areas and make a difference in driving down the incidence of domestic violence.
Referrals are going down, but reported cases of domestic violence are going up. Today’s The Times also reports leaked figures showing that other crimes, including burglary and street robbery, are going up. Does the Minister now regret the Government’s complacency and the way in which they have undermined crime prevention specialist units, neighbourhood police and domestic violence support services?
I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong on almost all counts. On the piece in this morning’s The Times, the hon. Gentleman might want to know that crime recorded by north-west police has fallen by 17% since June 2010 and that West Yorkshire has seen a drop of 15% in the same period. We welcome the fact that we now have a system whereby people—and women in particular—have more confidence to come forward to report domestic violence. [Interruption.] I hope you can hear me above the hubble-bubble opposite, Mr Speaker. I hope the situation will lead in due course to an increase in the number of prosecutions and convictions. Given that the matters are now firmly in the public mind, as they should be, historical cases are also coming forward and they are pushing the figures up.