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20 AUG 2008

Increase in number of reported cases of domestic violence

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice has announced the publication of a study evaluating some of the measures in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

The study, Early Evaluation of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, focused on three measures of the Act: making common assault an arrestable offence; making it an arrestable, criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order, and; extending the civil law on domestic violence (extending the law to protect cohabiting same-sex couples, and making non-molestation orders available to couples who have never cohabited).

Government figures show the number of domestic violence cases being reported has increased. In 2007 both family and criminal jurisdictions of court assisted 22,975 more victims than in 2004.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice, said: "This is a significant improvement against the background of an increasing volume of prosecutions.

"This is a testament to the growing confidence victims have that they will be listened to and their reports effectively investigated coupled with the specialist and practical support victims receive.

"As well as specialist domestic violence courts we have also introduced a range of other measures such as Independent Domestic Violence Advisers, the Forced Marriage Act and trained criminal justice personnel."

However Nicola Sharp, policy director of Refuge, said: "Because the police and the CPS have targets to meet, what we also find is that when arrests are made, perpetrators are only charged if the CPS considers it a case that is likely to be successfully prosecuted and this leads to offences often being downgraded or dropped altogether."

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