Domestic Violence: New specialist court in Banbury

28/10/2008

Victims of domestic violence in Oxfordshire will receive extra help and support from a new Specialist Domestic Violence Court system (SDVCs) in the Banbury area, which brings the total of these specialist courts in the Thames Valley area to six.

The Banbury SDVCs, which will sit each Wednesday, is one of six new courts across the country which went live on October 20. The five other new courts will be in the East Midlands, North East, North West and Wales. They will add to the 98 SDVCs across England and Wales that are now a fundamental part of the Governments efforts to improve the support and care provided for victims of domestic violence.

CPS Thames Valley lead on SDVCs, Christine Pusey, said: By clustering cases together on a particular day we ensure that they are dealt with by specially trained magistrates, legal advisors and prosecutors. We aim to provide a consistently high quality of service to all victims who are courageous enough to report domestic abuse to police as the case goes through the criminal justice system.

Statutory and voluntary agencies, including the Independent Domestic Advisor, witness and Oxford Domestic Abuse Services, have been working together on this project for two years to meet the demanding standards set for accreditation by the Ministry of Justice.

In the majority of cases defendants plead guilty, which means that the victims and witnesses do not need to give evidence. During the last six months in North Oxfordshire the average guilty plea rate is 72%, with a further six percent of defendants being convicted after trial. We have a dedicated DV witness care officer, who works hard to ensure that the needs of victims and witnesses are met.

Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice said: Just because domestic violence goes on behind closed doors doesnt mean we can ignore the issue. Its a crime and will not be tolerated in our society. These six new courts will boost our existing network of Specialist Domestic Violence Courts which are central to the package of support we offer domestic violence victims. Its important that victims of these crimes have confidence in the justice system these special courts will help with this.

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, said: The selection of six further Specialist Domestic Violence Courts will enable the Crown Prosecution Service to continue to build on the improvements in the number of successful outcomes in domestic violence cases.  We welcome the opportunity to work with partners in an integrated way, in order to improve the safety, satisfaction and support of women experiencing domestic violence.

In the recent Home Affairs Select Committee report on Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and Honour-Based Violence, a Victim Support worker said: The SDVC is brilliant. Having everyone in court trained about domestic violence issues is just great. The way the courts work has also sent out a message that the safety of the victim is considered paramount.

This work is a continuation of the joint National Delivery Plan for Domestic Violence which sets out clear aims and objectives and is proving to be effective in protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

For further information contact Jacqui Broadbridge, Group Communications Manager, CPS Thames Valley on 0118 951 3640

Editors notes

There were 1,929 prosecutions in the Thames Valley area in 2007-8 with a 68.3% successful conviction rate.

The first SDVC accreditation process took place in 2005/2006 with 25 accredited in April 2006.

The full list of the new selected specialist domestic violence court systems areas:

Region
Local Justice Area Courthouse(s)
 
East Midlands
As per courthouses:
Corby, Daventry, Kettering, Northampton, Towcester, Wellingborough
 
East Midlands
Loughborough LJA
Loughborough
 
North East
Sunderland
Sunderland
 
North West
Manchester City
Manchester
 
South East
Northern Oxfordshire
North Oxford (Banbury)
 
Wales
Vale of Glamorgan
Barry, Vale of Glamorgan

2. Link to Specialist Domestic Violence Review: a 2007 review undertaken of the first tranche of 23 Specialist Domestic Violence Courts,: www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/dv/dv018.htm

www.cps.gov.uk/publications/equality/index.html

3. Link to the recent Early evaluation of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/announcement140808a.htm

4. Further information on Specialist Domestic Violence Courts www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/domesticviolence/domesticviolence59.htm

The Crown Prosecution Service is the authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:

  • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
  • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
  • Preparing cases for court
  • Presenting cases at court

The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 83.7% in 2006-2007. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk

The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.  This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.  The Protocol is published on our website at:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/agencies/mediaprotocol.html