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Domestic Abuse Offences: Prosecution Rate

Volume 711: debated on Tuesday 22 March 2022

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 will ensure that more perpetrators are brought to justice. The Act creates new offences such as non-fatal strangulation, and extends the coercive and controlling behaviour offence to include former partners. Through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, we are also giving victims more time to report domestic abuse-related assaults so that they can seek justice.

My constituency sits in the London Borough of Sutton, which, while having relatively low levels of violent crime, has higher domestic abuse rates than the London average. Surely poor police conduct only serves to undermine the efforts to increase prosecution rates. What work is my hon. Friend undertaking to encourage domestic abuse victims to come forward and to ensure that there is confidence in the criminal justice system and protection for victims and their children?

Trust is the fundamental bond between us, the public, and the police, prosecutors, the courts and the criminal justice system. Given recent events, it is right that Members ask difficult and scrutinising questions of those agencies, but it is also right that we support the Home Secretary’s review through the Angiolini inquiry into police attitudes and conduct, as well as the review carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. Let me also draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the success of the Domestic Abuse Matters training. There is real evidence of improvement in the rates of charging people with coercive and controlling behaviour offences in police forces in which that training has been undertaken. Some 32 police forces have undergone the training. and we expect the rest to follow so that victims of domestic abuse can be supported.

The lack of reporting, understanding and prosecution of domestic abuse at child contact centres is creating a potential risk at those venues. Happily, the Domestic Abuse Act committed the Government to producing a report on this. Is the Minister willing to meet the all-party parliamentary group on child contact centres and services to discuss the matter further?

I am happy to take up the hon. Gentleman’s kind invitation. As he knows, we are very concerned about evidence from the family harms panel review about how some perpetrators use the family courts to continue their abuse. I hope the hon. Gentleman will be comforted by the news that in February we launched an integrated domestic abuse courts pilot in courts in Dorset and north Wales, which is testing a more investigative and less adversarial approach to family court proceedings.