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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

13 APR 2011

Mandatory case reviews for all domestic abuse deaths

Domestic Violence - Posed by ActorFrom today, mandatory case reviews will now be carried out in England and Wales where someone has been killed by their current or former partner. 

Police, the local authority, probation service, health service and voluntary partners will be involved in the reviews to look into the circumstances of the case to learn lessons. Where a local area doesn't undertake a review, the secretary of state now has the power to direct a specific person or body to establish or participate in a review.

According to statistics from the Crown Prosecution Service, women in England and Wales are still more at risk of crime in their own homes than anywhere else. One million women are abused every year, two are killed every week by partners or ex-partners and more than half of all victims of serious sexual assaults have been attacked by partners or ex-partners.

Figures also show that young women between the ages of 16 and 19 are the most at risk of domestic abuse. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer warns: "What that tends to show is that there may be a next generation of domestic violence waiting in the wings."

He continued: "We have seen the conviction rate for domestic violence offences rise from 49% in 2002 to 72% today, but domestic violence is still endemic in our society and we must take further steps to stop it."

Pilot studies where the CPS has worked closely with police and other organisations have provided promising results. In Suffolk, where one such pilot has been in operation, the conviction rate for domestic violence is 84% - 12% above the national average.

Mr Starmer continued: "We need to be sure that we are applying best practice everywhere and consistently - for example police routinely supplying the CPS with 999 recordings and photographs of victims and crime scenes immediately after the offending has occurred.

"Gathering all of the right evidence at the right time can have a substantial impact on the likelihood of securing a conviction. Building a robust case on evidence leaves offenders with little option but to plead guilty and reduces the opportunity to apply pressure on victims to retract allegations. We have seen in Suffolk that gathering the right evidence at the right time produces clear results."



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