Consultation on the Domestic Abuse Policy Statement
The CPS conducted a public consultation on the new Domestic Abuse (DA) Policy Statement. There are high levels of public interest and concern around the criminal justice response to domestic abuse, particularly the disparity in reports and criminal justice outcomes.
The policy statement sets out how we intend to increase the volume of domestic abuse prosecutions and improve criminal justice outcomes for victim.
We expect that this statement will be of most interest to those who work within and alongside the criminal justice system – for example support services who work with victims of domestic abuse, but it may also be of interest to victims and the wider public.
The consultation will provide interested persons with an opportunity to provide comments, so the final version is informed by a wide range of views.
It’s available as a webpage and a downloadable PDF in English and Welsh.
Consultation on the Domestic Abuse Policy Statement - Summary of Responses
This is a summary of responses to the public consultation on the Domestic Abuse Policy Statement undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). A draft policy statement was published on 4 April 2022 and consulted on for a period of 12 weeks, ending 26 June 2022.
The purpose of the consultation was to provide interested persons with an opportunity to provide comments and to ensure the final version of the policy statement was informed by as wide a range of views as possible.
This summary provides:
- An overview of the consultation
- Consideration of the consultation responses and
- Comments received which were out of scope.
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to consider the draft policy statement and send in their views which have been used to enhance the final version.
1. Overview of the consultation
The consultation was published on the external CPS website and widely publicised through:
- a press release
- CPS stakeholder group workshops with our Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) External Consultation Group1
- circulating the statement to other Government departments
- circulating the statement to police forces
- circulating the statement to the offices for Police and Crime Commissioners
- circulating the statement at a local level through CPS Domestic Abuse Leads and Inclusion and Community Engagement Managers
- the CPS’ social media channels and
- publication of the consultation internally on the CPS intranet.
We received responses from 33 respondents in total. The responses to each question were analysed separately and the main points were identified and carefully considered. Not every respondent gave specific answers to each individual question, but their views were still considered. This summary does not address every point made by respondents.
Responses were received from a variety of people, including Police officers, Domestic Abuse charities and support services, local authorities, Police and Crime Commissioners, the Home Office, and members of the public, as well as anonymous submissions.
2. Consideration of the consultation responses
This section provides a summary of the themes and issues raised in response to the consultation questions. We provide information on the changes we have made in the finalised statement and those which were considered but which did not result in a change.
The consultation posed seven main questions in relation to the draft policy statement, with further questions relating to demographics.
Question 1: We have tried to strike a balance between using the official language of the justice system and explaining things in language that is clear and easy to understand. How well do you think we’ve done this on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent)?
25 of the 33 respondents answered this question, giving an average rating of 3.64 out of 5 and a median rating of 4 out of 5.
Question 2: Is there anything you particularly like?
The majority of respondents provided a positive response to this question, welcoming the clear and inclusive language used and explanations of legal terminology. Respondents commented that the statement was concise and easy to understand.
Question 3: Is there anything you think we could improve?
The main themes arising from the responses to this question focus primarily on the use of specific terminology, including the way we talk about children, male victims, how domestic abuse is part of the CPS’ overarching work on Violence Against Women and Girls, and difficulties with understanding specific legal terminology.
We have made the following changes to the policy statement as a result of comments received:
- We have amended the language used to describe children to ensure that it is clear that they are classed as victims of domestic abuse.
- We have changed the term ‘tackling domestic abuse’ to ‘addressing domestic abuse’.
- We have highlighted that while two thirds of victims of domestic abuse are women, one third are men.
- We have further clarified that while we use the term ‘violence against women and girls’ in the policy statement, we apply the policy and associated guidance to all victims of domestic abuse equally.
- We have clarified what is meant by ‘summary’, ‘either-way’ and ‘indictable-only’ offences.
We carefully considered the following points which did not result in a change to our statement:
- Some responses suggested that the gendered nature of domestic abuse was lost due to the gender-neutral language used in the statement. We recognise that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by domestic abuse2, however, we do also see cases where trans or non-binary individuals and men are victims. We believe that in the interests of being inclusive of all victims, gender neutral language is appropriate.
Question 4: The policy statement sets out how we intend to increase the volume of domestic abuse prosecutions and improve criminal justice outcomes for victims whilst focusing on casework quality. How well do you think we’ve done this on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent)?
22 of the 33 respondents answered this question, giving an average rating of 3.54 out of 5 and a median rating of 4 out of 5.
Question 5: Was there anything that surprised you or that you didn’t already know in the content?
A range of responses were given to this question, including:
- One respondent was surprised that domestic abuse constitutes a third of all crime received by the CPS and 20% of our casework.
- One person welcomed the offender-centric approach to investigations and evidence-led prosecutions.
- One respondent welcomed the fact that children who see or hear, or experience the effects of, the abuse, are classed as victims under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Question 6: Is there anything missing? For example, have we provided links to the most relevant legislation, policies, practices and guidance?
A range of responses were given to this question, with some responses commenting that the policy statement was comprehensive and included relevant links to other resources.
We have made the following changes as a result of comments received:
- We have clarified that the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 extended the definition of abusive behaviour to also include economic, psychological, and emotional abuse.
- We have signposted to where victims can find more information about Independent Domestic Violence Advisers and other support services.
- We have provided links to information about restraining orders and new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders expected to come into force in 2023.
- We have provided sources to evidence our understanding that women are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse.
We carefully considered the following points which did not result in a change to our statement:
Some responses suggested that women were equally as abusive as men, men were equally as likely to be victims of domestic abuse as women, and that this has been ignored in the draft policy statement. However, this is not borne out in data sources including the Office for National Statistics3, our own CPS data4, and work with our stakeholders, which show that women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse.
Some respondents were unsure how the actions set out in the policy statement will contribute to improving charging and prosecution levels of domestic abuse cases and how we plan to work with our criminal justice partners to do so. The CPS is determined to see more perpetrators brought to justice. Our Domestic Abuse Programme for 2022-2023, which includes publishing this policy statement, explains in more detail what actions we are taking and how we are working with criminal justice partners to improve our charging and prosecution levels.
3. Comments received which were out of scope
We received a number of points which related to issues outside the scope of the consultation. In summary:
- We received comments about the training that Police officers and investigators receive on domestic abuse. This is a matter for the Police.
- We received comments about what the government is doing to address the root causes of domestic abuse and wider violence against girls, and prevention strategies. While the CPS plays a vital role in prosecuting these crimes and safeguarding victims, this is a matter for other Government departments, such as the Home Office, to address.
- We received comments about access to legal aid, refuges and support services.
- We received comments about changes to the law, including the permitting of hearsay as evidence. The CPS recognises that law changes are a matter for Parliament.