Domestic abuse initiative rolled out - Berkshire and Oxfordshire

15/12/2014

A scheme which was piloted in Buckinghamshire in December 2013 has been evaluated and proven to be a success. As a result of the success, the initiative, involving police and criminal justice agencies working together to improve the service to victims of domestic abuse, has today, Monday, 15 December 2014, been rolled out across Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Thames Valley Police, Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and victim agencies will work together to ensure cases of domestic abuse in Oxford, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire, Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire, Slough, Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Wokingham are processed more quickly than they are currently.

Domestic abuse is a serious crime, so it is important that the time it takes to get cases to trial is kept as short as possible. The overall aim of the scheme is to improve the outcome at court for victims of domestic violence and ensure speedier justice for those accused of such.

Under the scheme, all domestic abuse cases will be listed for a first hearing at the local Specialist Domestic Violence Court. This hearing will be within 14 days from the date the suspect was charged. For cases which go on to trial, the aim will be to list for trial within two to three weeks of the first hearing rather than the current six to eight weeks.

Superintendent Rory Freeman, Head of Thames Valley Police Criminal Justice, speaking on behalf of all the criminal justice agencies involved in the scheme said: "The evaluation of the pilot in Buckinghamshire, which launched last December, has proven it to be very successful. The enhanced file at the first hearing ensures that more guilty pleas are secured, meaning fewer cases are adjourned for trial. If we process cases more quickly, we do not risk victim disengagement and are able to bring more offenders to justice.

"It is anticipated that we will also see positive results across Oxfordshire and Berkshire and a reduction of domestic abuse cases which don't make it to court because the victim has withdrawn their support.  It is important to remember that everything we do is about supporting the victim and achieving the desired outcome for them. This scheme provides an improved service to victims of this insidious and often violent crime."