HC Deb 19 September 2002 vol 390 cc54-5W
Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a process to ensure that(a) criminal justice agencies, (b) social services departments and (c) others can learn the lessons from those cases where a victim of domestic violence has subsequently been murdered by her abuser. [18646]

Mr. Denham

There are a number of processes already in place to ensure all relevant agencies learn from cases where domestic violence culminates in murder, and measures are currently underway to try and minimise the likelihood of such a tragic event.

In the event of a victim of domestic violence being murdered by her abuser, where the local police had prior contact or knowledge of the abuse, an internal police review should routinely be undertaken to consider the force's processes and identify failings. Such a review will report to the Chief Officer and will contain recommendations as to what processes are required to ensure that such a crime is not allowed to happen.

Tragically, children can also be the victims of murder following domestic violence. Chapter 8 of the Government's "Working Together to Safeguard Children" child protection guidance details the process by which Area Child Protection Committees can institute a serious case review into cases where a child dies and abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor in the death. During such reviews, the agencies involved—the Police, Social Services, Education and Health Services—prepare reports of their involvement with the case. The final report then considers whether there are any lessons to be learned from the tragedy about the ways in which agencies work together to safeguard children, and the involvement between the family and relevant professionals.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are also currently piloting domestic violence murder reviews in cases that do not necessarily involve children, based on the same model as that just set out. Such reviews involve the key agencies and ensure an appropriate forum exists to take forward any recommendations that may prevent further homicides. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is awaiting the results of the MPS pilots before requiring all forces to follow similar procedures.

Further, the Solicitor General has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to carry out multi-agency domestic violence murder reviews in a number of recent cases. These reviews, and those conducted by the MPS seek to predict the risk factors where domestic violence is occurring and improve risk management.

Virginia Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which voluntary organisations he has consulted on his policy on domestic violence; and when he last met representatives from Refuge to discuss this issue. [71843]

Mr. Denham

The Home Office has consulted many voluntary sector organisations, and will continue to do so, on the policy of domestic violence. Officials from the Home Office and others from the Inter-Departmental Group on Domestic Violence also attend the Women's National Commission (WNC) Violence against Women Working Group which is made up of different voluntary sector organisations and projects working to combat domestic violence.

Organisations participating include Women's Aid Federation of England (WAFE), Refuge, Standing Together, Womankind Worldwide, Greater London Domestic Violence Project (GLDVP), Camden DV/Rape Crisis, IMKAAN, SERICC, Scottish Women's Aid, Welsh Women's Aid, Victim Support, Southall Black Sisters.

The Home Secretary has not held any meetings with Refuge to discuss domestic violence policy. My hon. Friend, Barbara Roche, Minister for Women, and also a member of the Home Office-led Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence with responsibility for education and awareness raising, has met their representatives very recently.

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