House of Commons
Tuesday 20 December 2011
Oral Answers to Questions
7. Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): What recent assessment he has made of the effects on prosecution rates of specialist domestic violence courts. 
The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): Evaluations of specialist domestic violence courts in 2005 and in 2008 clearly demonstrated that SDVCs involving specialist domestic violence support services have contributed to improving prosecution rates as well as safety for domestic violence victims. There have been no further assessments since 2008.
Roberta Blackman-Woods: County Durham achieved specialist domestic violence court status in 2006, since when there has been a huge increase in the number of successful prosecutions for domestic violence. These courts have not only brought more perpetrators to justice but have achieved more appropriate sentencing. What guarantee can the Attorney-General give that those very positive outcomes will not be put at risk by cuts to the court services?
The Attorney-General: First, I entirely agree with everything the hon. Lady said. I pay tribute to the previous Government for the emphasis that was placed on this area when the SDVC system was set up. Although there is a court rationalisation programme that will
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impact on SDVC provision in 21 court houses in 22 systems, all courts affected have received guidance and support to ensure a smooth transition so that the revised courts will be able to provide the same quality of service. That is a commitment that the DPP and the CPS take extremely seriously. I very much hope that although some courts will have to close, the quality of service that is available at the courts that are open and to which transfers of the work are made remains of the highest quality.