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Vulnerable Victim Support

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 24 September 2020

The needs and sensitivities of vulnerable victims are at the centre of Crown Prosecution Service casework. Prosecutors apply for special measures to ensure that vulnerable victims are supported to give their best evidence, and the CPS is engaged closely with the Courts and Tribunals Service, the police and other partners to facilitate the rapid roll-out of pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable victims and witnesses. The CPS regularly engages with stakeholders and works with national and local partners to continuously inform and improve its service, including to vulnerable victims and witnesses.

The sad reality is that there was an increase in domestic violence during the months of lockdown earlier this year. We know that it takes enormous courage for victims to come forward. How can I reassure my constituents in Burnley who are vulnerable victims of this awful crime that they will be protected and supported by the CPS and the Government when they come forward?

My hon. Friend is right. The Domestic Abuse Bill is a landmark Bill, and it contains many measures that I know he will welcome to support and protect victims. They include the introduction of domestic abuse protection orders, protections for victims to prevent them from being cross-examined by their abusers in family and civil courts, and the introduction of the first statutory definition of domestic abuse. He may be interested to know that in recent months, an increase in the number of domestic abuse cases moving through the system has been seen in CPS data for the county of Lancashire, and that is good news.

Crime rates in Carshalton and Wallington are, thankfully, below the national and London averages. However, worryingly, domestic abuse in the London Borough of Sutton is higher, on average, than in the rest of London, with covid restrictions only exacerbating the problem. What actions can my right hon. and learned Friend take to ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses of domestic violence are supported and protected from intimidation during trial?

Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime. It is a high priority for the CPS in my hon. Friend’s area of Sutton and everywhere in this country. It is vital that we bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Prosecutors apply for special measures, and that will help to ensure that vulnerable victims are supported to give their best evidence in difficult circumstances, and that they are protected from contact with the perpetrator of their abuse.