CPS Response to the HMICFRS/HMCPSI Joint Thematic Inspection Report in Relation to Domestic Abuse Evidence-Led Prosecutions
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) have today (23 January 2020) published a joint report into the work of the police and the CPS in relation to Domestic Abuse Evidence Led Prosecutions (DA ELP).
We see responding to domestic abuse (DA) as a top priority.
The inspection recognised that we have a clear focus on domestic abuse cases and that we understand the importance of achieving best possible outcomes for those impacted by domestic abuse.
We are pleased that Inspectors acknowledged that the application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors was excellent, having been applied correctly in 100% of the CPS charged cases examined, that we had good understanding of the risks posed to victims of domestic abuse, and understood the importance of managing those risks. We are happy that Inspectors recognised that our advocates are proactive, deal with cases efficiently, and are highly regarded by members of the judiciary.
However, this is a complex area of work and we are keen to continue to improve. We will work with our partners in the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing to ensure that evidence led prosecutions are considered for DA cases from the outset.
We will review the DA checklist used by police and prosecutors to assist in setting a case strategy from the outset. The DA Best Practice Framework, which is being implemented in magistrates’ courts DA cases in England and Wales, helps ensure that DA cases are handled effectively, and that victims and witnesses are supported appropriately. We recognise that we can do more to share examples of good practice and lessons learnt through the Framework and will do so.
We will remind our prosecutors about the training that is available to them and incorporate more examples of DA evidence led prosecutions into our training material to help our prosecutors apply an evidence-led approach wherever needed.
Inspectorate’s Recommendations for CPS
1. Police supervisors and CPS legal managers should maximise opportunities to share examples of good work and successful outcomes with their teams.
CPS Response: Examples of best practice and lessons learnt will be shared nationally and locally via the bi-annual VAWG Assurance and as part of the DA Best Practice Framework feedback.
2. In addition to the CPS mandatory bespoke ELP eLearning that all Area prosecutors have to complete, the police and CPS should ensure that refresher training in domestic abuse, particularly evidence led cases, is available to staff as appropriate.
CPS Response: We will remind lawyers that bespoke DA refresher training is available for experienced prosecutors and ensure that ELP examples are included in appropriate training.
3. Prosecutors should ensure that in all domestic abuse cases they set out clearly at the charging stage whether an evidence led prosecution is viable and if so define an effective prosecution strategy.
CPS Response: With the police we will revise the DA Checklist so that police and prosecutors are prompted to identify ELP issues from the outset thus building clear and robust case strategy. This will also be reflected in updated Legal Guidance.
4. At review stage prosecutors should, in all appropriate domestic abuse cases, clearly outline a strategy for proceeding with an evidence led prosecution.
CPS Response: We will revise the DA Checklist and include prompts reminding prosecutors to clearly outline their strategy for an ELP at each review.