International Women's Day - Bodyworn police cameras helping domestic abuse prosecutions
Video cameras worn by police are providing vital new evidence to help the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) convict domestic abusers.
Bodyworn video footage has enabled the successful prosecution of domestic abuse cases, even when victims have been unable to give evidence.
The number of prosecutions for domestic abuse completed in 2015-16 rose to 100,930 from 92,779 the previous year - the highest volume ever recorded.
Despite extensive measures in place to support and assist victims of domestic abuse, understandably some still feel unable to take part in a criminal prosecution or give evidence in court. Victims may be in fear and feel intimidated and could have concerns about attending court. Video footage allows prosecutors to show juries the immediate impact of an offence and the behaviour of the defendant, without a victim having to be present.
On Friday, 10 March a man will be sentenced for two counts of assault after he attacked two victims. Although both victims of Ansu Jallow, 43, spoke to police at their south London home after the assault, they later felt unable to give evidence in court. Magistrates allowed footage recorded by officers straight after the attack to be played in his trial and this helped to secure Jallow's conviction.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders said: "The CPS is prosecuting more cases of domestic abuse than ever before.
"On International Women's Day it is great to see how new technology is helping prosecutors to bring domestic abuse offenders to justice. We continually seek new and innovative ways to find the evidence to prosecute cases in court."
Lauren Costello, who leads on Domestic Abuse in CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: "Bodyworn video footage is making a huge difference in domestic abuse cases. It means we have so much more evidence from the scene, rather than simply the police officer's statement.
"The footage shows the victim when the offence has just happened, so the magistrates, the judge or the jury can see their reactions."
The CPS seeks to make effective use of every possible source of evidence, including recordings from 999 calls and material posted on social media. Last year, the CPS updated the Joint National Police Chiefs Council and CPS Domestic Abuse Evidence Gathering Checklist to ensure that police and prosecutors are collating and considering any form of social media evidence, spyware technology and Wi-Fi/Cell Site data. This aims to ensure that all evidence is explored and everything possible is done to support victims.
The National Police Chiefs' Council Lead on Domestic Abuse, Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, said: "While domestic abuse can affect anyone, from any walk of life, we know that women and girls are more likely to be victims and often experience abuse differently. In England and Wales over 26 per cent of women have suffered domestic abuse since the age of 16, equating to an estimated 4.3 million female victims.
"Bodyworn video is helping the police to gather evidence at the scene and bring offenders to justice. It is one of the many ways in which we are supporting the most vulnerable and improving our response to domestic abuse."
The Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP said: "The government recently announced its plans to make changes that will transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse. Independent prosecutors and government are working together so that we can hold more offenders to account.
"People who commit domestic violence deliberately attack their partners behind closed doors so as to leave as little evidence as possible. Victims can often feel as though it's one word against another. Cameras worn by the police upon entry to the property can help bring prosecutions when no other evidence exists, securing justice for victims."
Notes to Editors
Lauren Costello is District Crown Prosecutor in CPS Mersey-Cheshire
A new offence of controlling and coercive behaviour was implemented in December 2015. The CPS provided guidance and training for prosecutors and is monitoring performance. The first full year of data on these prosecutions will be published in the Violence Against Women and Girls report later in 2017.
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