Domestic Violence (Supplementary) [8]

Session date: 
December 10, 2003
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
Sir John Stevens

Question

I thank Jenny for putting this question on the agenda. I know of her involvement given that she was at the launch on 20 November of the Mayor's second annual report of the pan-London Domestic Violence Forum. There are a number of us who already know the answers that we have heard today. However, I think this is an opportunity for us to bring this matter into the public arena. So much has been achieved over the past two years. I think this is an area of achievement and great triumph for partnership working. As I did yesterday when I commended the Commissioner and all of his staff, I would like to do so again as a Member.

Given the problems of intimidation inherent in domestic violence cases, do you think that the police need to have a power to prosecute where the victim does not want to press charges? At the moment I know that you are actually taking witness statements. But I am not sure we are at that stage yet. Is that the next stage? We must be 10 steps ahead of the type of person we are dealing with who believes that it is alright to beat up women.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Domestic Violence (Supplementary) [8]

Answer for Domestic Violence (Supplementary) [8]

Answered By: 
Sir John Stevens

The Member is absolutely right in that one of the biggest problems previously was that we had a very peculiar approach to domestic violence, which was to refer someone to their civil remedy, which meant that actually never took place on a number of occasions. We then advanced to a situation where you needed the victim to give evidence before you prosecuted in most cases. I believe that if there is a strong case, a probative and weighty case in terms of how the evidence is assessed, then cases should be taken forward on occasions without the agreement of the victim. However, we must not be unaware of the legal difficulties of doing that. But I believe the time has come, specifically when you have serious assaults and mental trauma, that we should actually be taking a far bolder approach in terms of prosecutions. I would like to see that being taken together with the Police and the CPS as a course.