HC Deb 09 September 2004 vol 424 cc860-1
19. Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton) (Lab)

What discussions she has held with Cabinet colleagues on improving the way in which the Crown Prosecution Service deals with court cases involving domestic violence. [187720]

The Solicitor-General

I am in continuous discussions with ministerial colleagues about improving the way in which the CPS deals with court cases involving domestic violence, principally through the interministerial group on domestic violence chaired by the Home Office Minister, Baroness Scotland.

Linda Gilroy

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. It will not surprise her to learn that, at a seminar I chaired for people working to support those facing domestic violence in Plymouth this time last year, one of the key concerns was the delays in bringing cases to court. It is vital to speed things up. Will she continue her drive to join up government to achieve that and will she remind Baroness Scotland, who will visit my constituency next week, of the importance of doing everything we can to do so?

The Solicitor-General

I certainly will and I pay tribute to the work that my hon. Friend has done in her city of Plymouth on the issue of domestic violence, not least conducting a survey that has highlighted existing concerns. It is important that all the agencies work together and that cases are brought to court as swiftly as possible. However, protective orders should be made in the meantime, so that women can know that they and their children are safe before cases come to court.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

My right hon. and learned Friend will know that on average two women are killed every week in this country by their spouse or partner. Indeed, in the Rhondda in the past two years, we have had five domestic murders. Is it not vital that the CPS acts as sensitively as possible as early as possible in cases of domestic violence, so that they do not lead to domestic murder?

The Solicitor-General

It certainly is, and one of the objectives of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill, which is going through the House at present, is to enable early intervention. If early intervention does not take place, domestic violence can escalate and end up in homicide. In addition to early intervention, we have set up homicide reviews so that we learn the lessons when agencies have not been able to prevent homicides. The Law Commission has recently reported on homicides in cases of domestic violence, and we are considering what further action to take.