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Domestic Violence

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to raise awareness of domestic violence in the criminal justice system, with particular reference to (a) prevention and (b) support for victims. [97758]

Mr. Denham: The Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence has among its priority areas for action, improving the interface between the criminal and civil law; and ensuring a consistent and appropriate response from the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Among the steps which are being taken in this are the following:

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Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list new initiatives to tackle domestic violence since 1997; and what their cost was. [97760]

Mr. Denham: The readily available information on new initiatives to tackle domestic violence, and their costs, are as follows.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary recently announced a £14 million three-year funding package including help for the 376 Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships across the country to develop practical strategies for dealing with domestic violence at a local level. The Home Office is to fund the appointment of a new co-ordinator's post, based within the Local Government Association, to work with local authorities and police forces to help them deal effectively with domestic violence in their communities.

The Violence against Women (VAW) Initiative part of the Home Office's Crime Reduction Programme (CRl3), invested £10.7 million to identify the most effective and cost effective approaches to reducing domestic violence and rape and sexual assault by known perpetrators.

The Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence held its inaugural meeting in December 2001 and brings together eight Ministers to progress five priority areas for action:

The Department of Health are funding a £48,000 programme to pilot routine antenatal screening for domestic violence.

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Consultation on the Department of Health's recently published National Women's Mental Health Strategy: 'Women's Mental Health: Into the Mainstream' has just finished (December 2002). One of the themes of the strategy is the need to address violence and abuse as a core mental health issue.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has announced that a new national 24-hour free helpline to help women and children fleeing domestic violence will be set up, in a groundbreaking arrangement with Comic Relief.

The Government will spend a further £7 million to develop new refuges in partnership with local authorities around the country, to ensure better availability of safe accommodation for women and children forced to leave their homes.

Women and Equality Unit has commissioned, for the first time, a review of the economic and social costs of domestic violence.

The Adoption and Children Act makes clear that when a court is considering whether a child has suffered or is likely to suffer harm under the Children Act 1989, this harm includes harm a child may suffer as a result of witnessing the ill-treatment of another person.

The Lord Chancellor's Department have also set up a Domestic Violence Advisory Group to engage with the full range of stakeholders involved in dealing with domestic violence.

The Lord Chancellor's Department has also made significant contribution to the planning and funding of the second Inter-Governmental Conference 'Raising the Standards' held in Cardiff on 21 February 2003, and to the series of six nation-wide events on 'The Particular Challenges of Dealing with Domestic Violence in the Asian Community'.

The Solicitor General has announced the publication of the revised Crown Prosecution Service Policy on prosecuting cases of domestic violence.

'Policing domestic violence—a modular training programme' is a national training product developed by Centrex and issued in November 2002.

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The National Policing Plan states that police authorities should have effective strategies and procedures in place to respond quickly and effectively to domestic violence incidents.

The Prison and National Probation Services agreed a joint strategy for combating domestic violence which was taken to the Correctional Services accreditation panel in September 2002.

The National Probation Service has been running a domestic violence research pathfinder to evaluate the most effective way of working to combat domestic violence since 2000.

A consultation paper setting out proposals to prevent domestic violence will be published by Spring 2003. The consultation will aim to generate a comprehensive response from the public, voluntary sectors and others, to ensure the widest possible agreement on what needs to be done to prevent and deal with domestic violence. This consultation will also consolidate the initial consultation on domestic violence in the 'white paper Justice for All'.

Additionally the following information and guidance has also been produced since 1997.

Total recorded crime by police force area and region: trends since 1997

Police force areaApril 1996 to March 1997April 1998 to March 1999Old rules(16)New rules(17)April 1999 to March 2000Old boundariesNew boundariesApril 2001 to March 2002Percentage change 1996–97 to 2001–02 (excludes effects of rule and boundary changes)(18)
Total north east region286,386240,492268,741256,260261,308-18.3
Greater Manchester(18)320,668336,172362,450377,086380,80110.1
Total north west region685,954666,524726,730736,381777,8094.0
North Yorkshire(18)53,63948,37255,30953,55459,149-3.6
South Yorkshire146,660124,427133,059131,700134,764-14.1
West Yorkshire259,235246,438273,809260,237298,8473.8
Total Yorkshire and the Humber region582,255538,527592,868566,933610,223-4.8
Total east midlands region409,990375,001425,247424,512447,898-.3.7
West Mercia(18)82,08069,45181,78284,797102,1495.7
West Midlands(18)305,818276,512314,628364,887372,2577.0
Total west midlands region518,813466,117526,814587,129633,8918.1
Total east of England region363,344322,474358,475380,589398,391411,831-2.6
London, City of 4,7546,0357,1447,77510,09879.4
Metropolitan Police(17)844,306767,880934,2541,052,0471,016,7421,057,3606.5
Total London region849,060773,915941,3981,059,8221,024,5171,067,4586.9
Thames Valley168,386161,646176,477191,875196,9807.2
Total south east region603,552534,742606,939634,821652,324650,176-7.6
Avon and Somerset(18)151,072131,955150,089147,104178,9914.2
Devon and Cornwall101,32688,484110,644110,361101,425-20.0
Total south west region388,637341,326399,883399,251424,723-6.7
Total England4,687,9914,259,1184,847,0955,045,6985,045,6985,285,317-0.9

(16) 'Old rules' denotes the number of crimes that would have been recorded using the coverage and rules in use until 31 March 1998.

(17) 'New rules' denotes crimes recorded using the expanded offence coverage and revised counting rules which came into effect on 1 April 1998.

(18) These forces adopted the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) early, as it was officially introduced across England and Wales on 1 April 2002. This may have increased the number of offences recorded for 2001–02.

(19) Forces affected by boundary changes on 1 April 2000.

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