Supplementary note submitted by Mr David
Calvert-Smith, QC, following the evidence session on 26 February
When I appeared on 26 February, I agreed to
provide further information on guidance on domestic violence.
In response to Mr Watson's question:
Q 88 "Can I draw to your attention
the Home Office Circular 60/90 which directs police forces to
liaise with Chief Crown Prosecutors in this area (of DV)? What
we are trying to look for is, if that is not taking place, if
there is not consistency of aims, that you have got a framework
in place with which you can identify that problem and deal with
it as there seems to be something falling through the net here".
I would make the following comments.
Home Office Circular 60/90 was replaced by HOC
19/2000. The CPS had some input to the drafting of the new circular,
which provides guidance to Chief Constables on tackling domestic
violence. The guidance includes:
(a) the observation that the police cannot
tackle domestic violence alone but must work with other agencies,
including the CPS;
(b) a cross-reference to CPS policy on domestic
(c) advice to police forces to liaise with
CPS Area Chief Crown Prosecutors "when formulating policy,
to ensure consistency of aims and approach" and that CPS/Police
Joint Performance Management meetings provide an ideal forum to
resolve issues relating to file preparation and timeliness; and
(d) advice to produce Police/CPS service
level agreements on domestic violence cases.
The revised CPS Guidance expressly refers to
HOC 19/2000 and, for ease of reference, reproduces it in full
as an Annex. Both the CPS Policy statement on prosecuting domestic
violence cases and the supplementary CPS Guidance promote inter-agency
working. The Guidance specifically commends regular and effective
communication with the police and suggests that from time to time,
common systems and local inter-agency initiatives should be reviewed
with the police (para 1.10).
Many CPS Areas already have CPS/police protocols
or, as a result of the revised CPS policy, are currently involved
in drafting new agreements. This is one of the issues to be discussed
at the CPS National DV Co-ordinators' conference (24 June 2002);
the Solicitor General and I will be attending). Examples of existing
protocols have already been exchanged between Co-ordinators Areas
over the past nine months but some updating may now be necessary
to reflect developments, for example: the national roll out of
the CPS Direct Communication with Victims initiative and the introduction
of Victim Personal statements.
CPS National DV Co-ordinatorssince November
2001, each CPS Area has a national Co-ordinator for domestic violence
issues. Through this network Co-ordinators can identify issues/trends,
address problems and promote good practice in relation to domestic
violence cases thereby improving CPS and police performance at
local and national level.
The CPS is also engaged at national and local
levels with police training to help under-pin joint working.
Sir Robin Auld's report of his Review of the
Criminal Courts (published October 2001) recommended that there
should be a shift in responsibility for the charging decision
from the police to the CPS. Specifically, Sir Robin recommended
that the CPS take responsibility for the charging decision in
all but minor routine cases of where a holding charge was required
(recommendation 154). Both the Association of Chief Police Officers
and the Police Federation have welcomed the broad thrust of this
recommendation. In essence, the recommendation proposes that the
CPS should be engaged with cases pre-charge to help ensure cases
are properly prepared and prosecuted. The potential advantages
with this are to reduce delay and wasted police/CPS/court resources,
raise the quality of prosecutions, better management of victim
expectation and better protection of defendant rights. The CPS
sees this as an opportunity for early weeding out of cases that
should not be prosecuted (insufficient evidence or not in the
public interest) and for feeding in more of the right cases. This
latter aspect is particularly significant in respect of domestic
violence cases. There is a significant attrition rate between
cases that come to the attention of the police and the far fewer
number of cases passed-on to the CPS. We believe that with the
early involvement of the CPS, giving advice on evidence and charging,
the attribution rate for domestic violence cases could be reduced.
With support from the trilateral criminal justice Ministers, the
CPS and ACPO have established a pilot to test the practicalities
of Sir Robin's recommendation. Whilst it is early days there are
positive signs that the pilot will show that Sir Robin's recommendation
can have a positive effect on the attrition rate generally.
Finally Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service
Inspectorate proposes to conduct a thematic inspection of domestic
violence cases in 2003.