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Service Level Agreement between the Crown Prosecution Service London and the Metropolitan Police Service for domestic violence cases

  1. Introduction & Aims
  2. Domestic Violence - Definition
  3. Identifying Domestic Violence Cases
  4. Investigation of Domestic Violence Cases
  5. Case Handling Issues
  6. Bail
  7. Victim and Witness Care
  8. Withdrawal of Domestic Violence Cases
  9. Discontinuing Cases
  10. Interagency Issues
  11. Training Issues
  12. Monitoring the Agreement

Annexes (not available online)

  1. MPS Domestic violence policy
  2. CPS Guidance on Prosecuting cases of Domestic Violence (separate document)
  3. Form DP1
  4. Form DN1

Other documents (not available online)

  1. ACPO/CPS Charging Standards
  2. Vulnerable Witnesses a Police Service Guide
  3. Home Circular 19/2000
  4. Victims Charter
  5. Special Measures - Practice Guidance
  6. MPS Model for Supervising Court Bail Conditions

  1. Introduction & Aims
    1. This Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) London reflects national police and CPS policy in respect of the handling of incidents of domestic violence and promotes consistent handling of such cases.
    2. Domestic violence is a serious crime and the aim of this agreement is to ensure that victims of both direct and indirect domestic violence are fully supported through positive action and that offenders are brought to justice quickly.
    3. For the aim of this SLA to be achieved, close collaboration between the MPS and the CPS is essential. It is the responsibility of:
      • the MPS to obtain the best evidence;
      • the CPS to review this evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS Policy on Domestic Violence;
      • the MPS and CPS to consult with each other and with the victim at all stages to ensure a continued flow of information about case progression and any changes in circumstances.
    4. When making decisions in cases involving domestic violence, the MPS and CPS will, in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998, consider and balance the rights of the victim, any children, the defendant and the public, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

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  2. Domestic Violence - Definition
    1. The Government definition of domestic violence was agreed in 2004 and is:
    2. "Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 18 or over, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality"

      This definition includes the following:

      • Behaviour between partners or former partners whether married or not;
      • Victims including male victims, victims in same sex relations and victims of abusive family members, (including sibling abuse, parent abuse and in-law abuse);
      • All forms of violent or controlling behaviour, for example assault, harassment or threats;
    3. The CPS will also apply its DV policy when dealing with criminal offences that occur in a domestic context involving victims and abusers who may be under 18, but cases falling within this category will not be included for the purposes of joint monitoring.

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  3. Identifying Domestic Violence Cases
    1. The MPS will:
      • Ensure all domestic violence cases are clearly identified as such before they are submitted to the CPS. This will be done by marking on the top right hand corner of the MG 1 DV clearly indicating that this is a domestic violence case;
      • Stamp or mark the charge sheet, Form 57B, with the letters DV on all copies;
      • On being notified by the CPS that a case falls within the DV classification, mark their papers accordingly.
    2. The CPS will:
      • Endorse the classification DV on the front of the CPS file jacket and flag the case on COMPASS where the MPS have identified cases in accordance with the definition in paragraph 2.1, or the Crown Prosecutor identifies cases in accordance with the definition in paragraph 2.1 and 2.2;
      • Inform the CJU that a case falls within the domestic violence classification in 2.1 should the MPS fail to identify such a case.

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  4. Investigation of Domestic Violence Cases
    1. Officers reporting or attending domestic violence incidents have a duty to pursue all lines of enquiry. They need to gather and preserve the widest range of evidence and not focus solely on the willingness of the victim to give evidence.
    2. Officers attending incidents should include in their report details of:
      • Any visible injuries to any party or the lack of visible injury to any party;
      • The physical conditions at the scene;
      • The disposition of the victim and the alleged offender;
      • The identity of any other person present at the scene or in the vicinity, including neighbours and children, who may have seen or heard anything of evidential value to the investigation;
      • The 999 tapes of emergency calls.
    3. Evidence gathering should include:
      • Obtaining the 999 tape if applicable;
      • Speaking to neighbours and obtaining statements as necessary;
      • Speaking with any other potential witnesses and obtaining statements as necessary;
      • Considering interviewing children in the household who may have witnessed the incident. The Guidance for Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses should be complied with at all times;
      • Making full notes as to the emotional/physical conditions of the parties involved and the conditions at the venue. Notes should be made regarding the emotional and mental state of the victim and the alleged offender including any comments made by either party. (Any evidence of emotional, physical injury or damage could be significant in a subsequent Court appearance. Officers must be aware that what they see and hear at the scene of a domestic incident is crucial evidence, and must be recorded);
      • Record any defensive injuries and either party's claims of self defence. Where it is alleged injuries are self inflicted ascertain if there is a history of this;
      • Note whether either party is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and where possible identify the substance used;
      • The Reporting Officer should make a note of anything said by the victim in the presence of the alleged offender, or anything said by the alleged offender, this should be recorded in their Notebook. An alleged offender should be asked to sign the Notebook if any comments have been made in their presence;
      • Where possible, appropriate photographs of injuries or disruption to the scene should be taken or arranged to be taken, for continuity. Consent should be obtained;
      • In order to assist in the investigation as a whole, Officers should endeavour to obtain a signed medical consent form or separate statement from the victim, or make arrangements to obtain such form/statement at the earliest opportunity;
      • A thorough in-depth formal interview of the suspect and where a victim has made a statement, the Interviewing Officer should endeavour to put all the facts alleged in the statement to the suspect. Reference should also be made to any photographs of injuries sustained by the victim; It is important to note whether the suspect admits guilt rather than agrees with the victim's statement. The offender's admissions are important should a victim withdraw their statement, as any 'agreement of the statement' would then be inadmissible in court;
      • Obtaining any CCTV footage;
      • A Victim's Personal Statement should be taken in accordance with the guidelines.
    4. A full statement should be obtained from the victim which should include details of:
      • The family composition;
      • The history of the relationship and any other previous incidents;
      • The actual incident;
      • The victim's injuries (physical and emotional) and their extent;
      • Whether a weapon was used, the type of weapon and where it came from;
      • Whether any threats have been made since the attack;
      • Whether any children were present and if so the effect on them;
      • The victim's view of the future of their relationship;
      • Whether there is any damage at the location i.e. broken furniture, windows or ceramics, whether the telephone was ripped out etc.
    5. The victim must be invited to make a Victim Personal Statement even if it appears the victim is/may be reluctant to support a prosecution.

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  5. Case Handling Issues
    1. The MPS will:
      1. Deal with domestic violence cases expeditiously.
      2. Apply the MPS DV policy (Annex A Domestic Violence Policy) and the DV Standard Operational Practice for the investigation of domestic violence incidents (available on the MPS intranet) when investigating all allegations of domestic violence abuse.
      3. Refer all domestic violence cases that meet the CPS 'threshold test' to the CPS duty prosecutor for a decision on charge.
      4. When requesting advice from the CPS in writing, orally or by telephone, Officers should consider these requests for advice a priority. Written requests for advice should be marked as a priority.
      5. Ensure the Investigating Officer includes the following information on an MG 6 in all files:
        • History of the relationship;
        • Previous incidents involving any of the parties;
        • Ability/willingness of the victim to give evidence;
        • Composition of the family;
        • Effect of proceedings on any children;
        • Whereabouts of children during the incident;
        • Current domestic arrangements and information, or the Officer's view on the future relationship;
        • Likelihood of recurrence;
        • Views on safety of victim and any children;
        • Information from other statutory or voluntary agencies. E.g. Social Services, local Health Authority or Victim Support Scheme;
        • Civil orders made or pending and any breaches;
        • Vulnerable witness forms where appropriate;
        • Details of any Risk Assessment made;
        • Does the offender admit the offence or admit one offence and deny others;
        • Has the victim previously withdrawn a case and if so why.
      6. MPS shall ensure that the CPS are kept informed of any changes or developments throughout the life of a case in respect of those issues listed at paragraph 5.1.5.
      7. In all cases where medical evidence is required, medical consent will be obtained at the earliest opportunity by the Investigating Officer and medical evidence obtained. Where a medical consent form/statement has been submitted with the file, the Investigating Officer will proactively manage the obtaining of the medical statement ensuring systems are in place to chase missing statements. Where no medical consent has been obtained, the Investigating Officer will ensure this is rectified as a matter of priority and ensure medical evidence is obtained in a timely manner.
      8. The MPS will respond rapidly to a CPS request for further evidence or nformation by the due date indicated by the CPS.
      9. Identify those witnesses who may require special measures in accordance with the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.
      10. The MPS in appropriate cases will personally deliver a letter from the CPS to the victim, under the CPS Direct Communication with Victim's scheme (e.g. where the victim is in a refuge or at a secret address).
      11. In cases committed or sent to the Crown Court, the MPS should notify the CPS of any factors that would tend to make the case unsuitable to be listed as a 'floater'.
    2. The CPS will:
      1. Apply the joint MPS/CPS charging standards to all DV incidents.
      2. Review and prosecute cases of domestic violence expeditiously in accordance with CPS policy and the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The Review will also include consideration of the use of bad character evidence pursuant to Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
      3. Not make assumptions that calling the victim is the only way to prove a case and the CPS will consider what other evidence may be available either to support the victim's evidence or as an alternative to the victim's evidence.
      4. Prioritise requests for written, oral or telephone advice in domestic violence proceedings.
      5. Make the safety of the victim, children or any other person involved a prime consideration when deciding whether or not to prosecute.
      6. Identify all domestic violence cases by flagging the case on COMPASS and clearly marking the letters DV on the front of the case file and will monitor all domestic violence cases in accordance with national CPS policy.
      7. When dealing with all breaches of bail CPS advocates will remind the court that breaches of bail should be dealt with as soon a reasonably practicable, and invite the court to consider revoking bail.
      8. In accordance with the CPS Direct Communication with Victims scheme, write to the victim to explain the CPS decision wherever the CPS decide to drop a case or substantially alter the charge. In appropriate cases these letters will be personally delivered by the MPS. The MPS will also be informed of any changes to the charge or where the case has been discontinued.
      9. Endeavour to allocate domestic violence cases to CPS lawyers who have experience in such matters. Reviewing lawyers should diarise themselves to conduct any particularly sensitive or difficult case.
      10. Identify appropriate counsel for the prosecution of domestic violence cases in the Crown Court.
      11. In cases committed or sent to the Crown Court, when informed by the MPS of any factors that would tend to make the case unsuitable to be listed as a 'floater', the CPS will notify the Court Listing Officer so that a fixed date is given.

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  6. Bail
    1. It is important that the CPS have the information listed in section 4 and paragraph 5.1.5, if the defendant is brought before the Court with an application to remand in custody. The Investigating Officer will also consult with the victim on appropriate bail conditions and explain what rights and obligations arise out of bail conditions. Any Risk Assessment made by the MPS should also be brought to the attention of the CPS so that it may be taken into account in whether or not to oppose bail.
    2. Where a defendant applies for bail or to vary his bail conditions and introduces new information not previously known to the CPS, the prosecuting advocate will, where possible, seek an adjournment so the MPS can make enquiries, but will always do so where contact with children is raised as an issue and the views of the victim are not known. The CPS will ask that the defendant's application be adjourned until these enquiries are complete.
    3. In all initial remand files the MPS view on the victim and child's safety and the victim's own view on their own and child's safety will be included.
    4. The CPS lawyer will pass the result of any bail application to the MPS, if necessary, via the Police Liaison Officer (PLO) and as soon as reasonably practical after the Court's decision, unless the Investigating Officer is already in attendance at Court. Where the PLO does not receive this information from the CPS they should obtain it from the Court.
    5. The PLO at Court or other Officer so notified of bail conditions, on receipt of that decision, will notify the relevant CJU and Borough Intelligent Unit immediately. In cases of any sensitivity the notification of the Court's decision will also be made to the Investigating Officer.
    6. The CJU or Investigating Officer as the case may be, on receipt of the information referred to in Para 6.5 above should immediately notify the victim of the Court's decision.
    7. The CPS will apply for the case to be adjourned for these enquiries to be completed if necessary, but will always do so where contact with children is raised as an issue and the views of the victim are known.

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  7. Victim and Witness Care
    1. When a case is going to trial, the Investigating Officer will notify the CPS and the Police Witness Liaison of any witness needs or vulnerability in respect of the following:
      • Any relevant applications for special measures under the Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act 1999, and views as to the need for Special Measures meetings in accordance with the agreed policy between The MPS and the CPS in relation to Special Measures;
      • Any domestic circumstances which may impact upon the witnesses' ability to attend Court at short notice;
      • Whether any witnesses require an interpreter or any other assistance to give evidence.
    2. The Investigating Officer will be responsible for ensuring that the victim's details are passed to Victim Support or any other appropriate organisation arranging for victim and witness care.
    3. On receipt of the list of witnesses to attend Court from the CPS, the Police Witness Liaison will check the form to identify any vulnerable witness or special witness needs and will make appropriate arrangements for witness care.

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  8. Withdrawal of Domestic Violence Cases
    1. Where a victim wishes to withdraw their complaint a full withdrawal statement will be taken by the Investigating Officer or other appropriate Officer, which will include:
      • The reasons for wishing to withdraw the complaint;
      • Establishing whether they are saying the offence did not occur or whether they are saying that they do not wish the investigation or prosecution to continue;
      • Whether any pressure, directly or otherwise, has been placed on them;
      • Who they discussed the case with;
      • Whether any civil proceedings have been instigated;
      • The impact on their life and that of any children.
    2. The Investigating Officer or the Officer taking the statement of withdrawal will inform the CPS lawyer of their view on:
      • The truthfulness of the reasons given;
      • How they consider the case should be dealt with;
      • How a victim might react to being compelled; and
      • Safety issues relating to the victim and any children.

      This should be prepared on Form MG6 where time permits.

    3. The Officer taking the withdrawal statement should be in a position to make their own statement about surrounding circumstances covering the issues of duress, state of fear of victim and other surrounding circumstances and should be prepared to attend Court to give such evidence orally, in the case of an application being made under Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
    4. With the most appropriate sensitivity, the victim should be told that making a withdrawal statement does not necessarily preclude them from the requirement to attend Court and give evidence if necessary. In such cases the victim may be invited to make a Victim Personal Statement to express their views as to why they do not support a prosecution and their views now on the incident/relationship/defendant. In appropriate cases the CPS may determine that, notwithstanding the victim's withdrawal, it is in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution and in some instances it will not be possible to proceed without the complainant's evidence.
    5. The MPS will continue the investigation despite the fact that the victim indicates his/her unwillingness to attend Court, as the CPS will consider:
      • If witness summons is appropriate;
      • Whether the procedure in Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 is appropriate to make an application to read the witnesses' statement in his/her absence;
      • If there is sufficient evidence to proceed without the victim;
      • In certain circumstances, after careful consideration, applying for a witness warrant.
    6. In cases where the first indication that the victim wishes to withdraw the complaint arises at Court, the CPS will:
      • Invite the Court to grant an adjournment for the MPS to make proper enquiry into the genuine wishes of the complainant. The length of the adjournment will depend on the nature of the enquiries and whether the defendant is in custody. If appropriate, the CPS will seek the same bail conditions during this process, but in any case the Court will inform the PLO as soon as possible should these conditions vary;
      • If an adjournment is granted, notify the CJU immediately for the Investigating Officer to instigate an enquiry into the complainant's genuine wishes.

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  9. Discontinuing Cases
    1. The CPS will apply national policy guidelines relating to discontinuance to cases of domestic violence.
    2. In all cases where the issue has not been raised by the MPS and the CPS are considering discontinuing a case, a proposed Notice of Discontinuance, Annex C: DP1, will be sent to the CJU giving reasons for the proposals and seeking the views of the MPS. The Notice will identify the Investigating Officer and allow no less than 48 hours for the MPS to respond where appropriate.
    3. In those rare cases where it is not possible to seek MPS views before discontinuance takes place, a full explanation for the departure from national policy will be passed to the CJU. The full reasons for the decision will also be provided at the earliest opportunity using form DN1, Annex D: DN1.
    4. The MPS will respond in a timely manner to the proposed Notice of Discontinuance.
    5. The CPS will write directly to the victim explaining that the decision was that of the CPS and giving reasons, as appropriate, having due regard for the safety of the victim and the need to ensure that neither the victim nor the defendant wrongly believes that the responsibility for the decision (whether or not to prosecute) rests in the hands of the victim.

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  10. Interagency Issues
    1. The MPS and CPS will continue to support all local and area wide domestic violence fora.

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  11. Training Issues
    1. Joint training for the CPS and MPS will be an ongoing consideration and trainers should make use of expertise from both organisations.

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  12. Monitoring the Agreement
    1. The monitoring of this SLA will take place centrally by the CPS London Area Co-ordinator and the MPS Diversity Directorate.
    2. DV outcomes and performance will be monitored quarterly by local Borough Criminal Justice Groups.
    3. The SLA will be reviewed and measured by way of a survey annually or as required, to ensure that changes in policy or practice are reflected in the agreement. Any changes to the SLA shall be approved by the signatories.
    4. Any dispute arising out of this SLA, or the failure of any party to the agreement to adhere to the agreement which cannot be resolved locally, shall be referred to the signatories for resolution.

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    Signed ..............................

     

    COMMANDER BRIAN MOORE

    DEPUTY COMMISSIONER

     

    on behalf of

     

    THE METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE

     

    DATE

     

     

    Signed ..............................

     

    WENDY WILLIAMS

    DIRECTOR, CPS NORTH LONDON

     

    on behalf of

     

    THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE, LONDON

     

    DATE

     

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