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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK
Domestic violence victims testify
Domestic violence (generic)
Pilot schemes appear to be helping victims
Powers were used to force 140 victims of domestic violence in England and Wales to give evidence in December, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The CPS said such action is taken where there is a danger that someone could be seriously injured or killed.

But each case is considered separately and witness summonses are not issued if someone would be put at more risk.

Woman made up 89% of victims in the CPS "snapshot" and 59% of the 2,299 cases involved unmarried or former partners.

Violence against married partners or ex-spouses made up 25% of the cases in December with the remainder involving parents, grandparents, children, siblings and extended family members.

Convictions in December rose 3.3% to 53% compared with the same month in 2002. But the proportion of cases which ended in an acquittal also increased by 2% to 5.1%.

The number of cases dropped, discontinued or resulting in the defendant being bound over fell slightly.

Meanwhile, pilot schemes in Croydon, south London, and Caerphilly, south Wales, which gave domestic violence victims more support, led to significant improvements, another CPS report found.

Pilot scheme

In Croydon a special court pursued prosecutions without the testimony of victims by using evidence from 999 calls, photographs of injuries and from third parties.

And an independent advisor to victims in Caerphilly resulted in a fall in the number of cases being dropped.

Some of the features of the pilot schemes are now due to be extended more widely through 25 centres England and Wales, the CPS said.

"It's good that domestic violence is being taken more seriously," a spokeswoman for domestic violence charity Women's Aid said.

"It's a huge leap forward but we need to keep sight of the victims and that should remain at the heart of policy making."


SEE ALSO:
Abuse victims offered help on web
24 Jun 05 |  Berkshire
'Pioneering' abuse centre opens
19 May 05 |  Lancashire
Prosecutors get interview powers
20 Dec 04 |  UK Politics
Partnership faces domestic abuse
04 Sep 04 |  Leicestershire


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