Joint Inspection: evidence led domestic abuse prosecutions

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have published a joint report on evidence led domestic abuse cases. They found that neither the police nor the CPS can distinguish those cases where an evidence led approach may be more effective, and that the handling of evidence led domestic abuse prosecutions requires improvement.

An evidence led prosecution is one where the victim of domestic abuse decides not to support a prosecution, and in turn prosecutors need to decide whether it is possible to bring forward a case without that support. Inspectors found that there are currently no mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of evidence led prosecutions, which means that there is no opportunity to learn lessons and share good practice across the organisations.

Inspectors looked at 160 magistrates’ courts domestic abuse files finalised between June and November 2018 selected from four CPS areas and respective police forces. Inspectors spoke to a number of stakeholders including the police and CPS National Domestic Abuse Leads; the CPS National Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy Manager as well as managers and domestic abuse leads from the police and the CPS.

Inspectors found that at all levels in the police and CPS there was a clear recognition that domestic abuse is a priority area of work, where the best possible outcome was central to their work. However, the report showed that there was not enough consideration given to prosecuting a case when a victim withdraws their support. This would then allow for a more detailed investigation at the scene, for example evidence from neighbours, forensic and photographic evidence.

The full report can be found on the CJJI website.