Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, has welcomed national measures to boost conviction rates in domestic violence and has praised local volunteers who helped her compile a court observer’s report which is influencing positive change for the victim experience.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revealed it will extend the roll-out of techniques developed in pilot projects which have improved conviction rates by 10 per cent over the past two years.
Dame Vera, who has long championed change to the domestic violence court system, said: “Domestic abuse complainants deserve a justice system that understands their needs and my report, based on findings from local volunteers, found there are crucial gaps so I am pleased this work is making a positive impact and we are seeing the CPS taking some much needed and very welcome steps in the right direction.”
Recommendations made in a report by Dame Vera earlier this year highlighted the absence of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and inadequate training for staff as key problems that undermine the effectiveness of specialist domestic violence courts.
The report entitled ‘Specialist Domestic Violence Courts – How special are they?’ was compiled by volunteer court observers – mainly from the North of England Soroptimists and trained by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts Service who observed 223 cases between July and November 2017.
Dame Vera added: “Victims expose themselves to enhanced risk when they report to police and agree to testify and full appreciation of that should feed into every element of the justice system.”