Norfolk Constabulary insists it is committed to bringing domestic abuse offenders to justice

PUBLISHED: 07:11 11 September 2013

Abused woman in a corner

Abused woman in a corner

(c) Hemera Technologies

Norfolk police has today insisted the force is “committed” to supporting victims of domestic violence and “bringing offenders to justice” despite claims the number of cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has fallen.

The Labour Party claimed figures revealed by Freedom of Information requests show that the number of domestic violence cases being handed to the CPS has fallen by 13pc since 2010 despite an increase in reports to the police of 9.4pc.

In Norfolk, it claims domestic violence cases handed to the CPS have also fallen, despite still seeing an increase in reports to police.

Jess Asato, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, has called on Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, to “ensure all cases of domestic violence are handed to the CPS”.

Mr Bett, who since taking office has made supporting vulnerable victims one of his priorities, urged police to have a look behind these figures presented by the Labour Party.

He said: “It is essential that we make sure we are achieving all the positive results for victims through the court process that we can.

“To reinforce this point, I have asked for further detailed work to be undertaken by the police so I and the temporary chief constable can be clear that the right cases are going forward to the CPS.”

But Norfolk Constabulary today insisted it was working closely with partners in the criminal justice sector to improve number of people they bring to justice for these type of offences, which remains a priority crime.

A spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary is committed to offering victims of domestic violence support from the very first contact, with the overall aim of preventing further and more serious violence and bringing offenders to justice. We work very closely with our partner organisations to achieve this.

“We know that domestic abuse is an under-reported crime and we have, in recent years, seen a rise in both the number of incidents being reported and in the crimes recorded as a result, indicating an increased willingness for victims to report such incidents.

“Every incident is reviewed and every crime thoroughly investigated and, depending upon the available evidence, may lead to criminal charges, cautions or other sanctions.

“The total number of criminal charges given for domestic abuse crimes between during the period 2009 to 2012 fell by 12.6pc in Norfolk and we intend to continue to work with our partners in the criminal justice sector to better understand what we can all collectively do to further improve the number of people we are able to bring to justice.

“Our over-riding aim remains to encourage victims to come forward so we can work with them to achieve the best possible outcome for them. The police and crime commissioner has also set performance measures in this area to ensure that domestic abuse continues to be a priority for the constabulary.”

Police figures show that between 2009 and 2012, the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to Norfolk constabulary increased by 20pc to 9,943 in 2012 from 8,183 in 2009.

The spokesman said these are all calls to police with a domestic abuse element but which may not necessarily constitute a crime like, for example, a third party report of a verbal altercation.

During the same period, the number of crimes recorded as a result of these incidents rose by 5.8pc (3,215 in 2012 against 3,039 in 2009).

Norfolk currently enjoys a higher than average conviction rate for these offences at 76.2pc against a national average of 74.8pc.

The Labour Party had claimed that the criminal justice system was being “hollowed out” by the government with the loss of officers leading to a decline in cases being referred to the CPS.

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