CPS Consultation on Prosecuting Domestic Violence

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Introduction

What do you think about the way that Domestic Violence is prosecuted? Is it not taken seriously enough, or an example of policy driven prosecuting without regard to the circumstances?

There is a Consultation Homepage where all the material is collected.

 

Proposals

This is supposed to supplement the general Code for Crown Prosecutors. There is not necessarily anything wildly new or exciting put forward, just a consolidation and evolution.

Although it is a relatively lengthy document (some 50 odd pages) it is worth a read. Some of it is stating the obvious – the CPS state that cases should be prepared properly. Of course, saying that doesn’t make it happen, which may be a bigger issue.

There may be more controversy over the charging decisions. Cautions are effectively ruled out which may or may not be a good thing. There is a concern that there is to much of a ‘broad brush’ approach.

For example, para 64 : “The police should consider cautions carefully in domestic violence cases. This is because such cases involve a breach of trust and are unlikely to be the first offence“. It is not immediately clear that this correctly states the test for a caution. Many people might find the second sentence there a bit too vague and lacking in evidence.

This is in part due to the overly wide definition of domestic violence. It may  be relevant in many cases, but an argument in a pub between two brothers is also categorised as domestic violence, where it is hard to see an abuse of trust or any evidence that it is not going to be the first offence.

It seems to me that there is a lack of proper consideration of the evidential test – particularly where many (criminal) practitioners are of the suspicion that the CPS use a lower test in practice.

The difficult question of when a complainant should be forced to come to court and/or give evidence is given, in my view, far too little consideration. But there is some good material on how to support complainants and witnesses (again, it could be said that the practice is often somewhat different from the theory).

 

How to respond

There is a response form which can be downloaded.

The deadline to respond is 9th July 2014.

 

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5 thoughts on “CPS Consultation on Prosecuting Domestic Violence

  1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    As most violent crime is committed by men it’s hard to see where you’re coming from with this. Next… how most victims of racism are white and heterosexuals are discriminated against on the grounds of their sexuality too.

    Reply
  2. Andrew

    Right again, Libegsor, Harry must live in a parallel universe where the world is made of green cheese. There is probably more female-on-male than comes to court – but “most”?

    One area where the CPS get it wrong is in the enforcement of bail “no-contact” conditions. Their position is that any contact is his fault and a breach even if the complainant initiates the contact; and that the conditions are all on him and not on her.

    That’s poppycock.

    In the real world the complainant phones the defendant. Ideally the defendant would look at the screen of his phone and make sure it’s not her, but he doesn’t, or the number is withheld, or he doesn’t answer and she tries again, and again, and again.

    She tells him they need to talk. Or that she needs money for little Johnny’s new shoes. If he ends the call she rings back.

    Or she goes to his bail address, probably his Mum’s and she knows where it is, and talks her way in. It’s late and if he leaves the house he will be in breach of his curfew condition. And if he doesn’t he’s in breach of the no-contact condition.

    Those conditions ought to be made two-way. If she is saying he was violent, and he is denying it and awaiting trial (and presumed innocent), it is perfectly reasonable to expect and require her not to contact him if she is really in fear of him.

    In practice magistrates do not withdraw bail in these circumstances but the question should not even arise.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Domestic Violence Consultation – Draft Response | Dan Bunting - A Life in the Bus Lane

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