In the Media

Ipswich set for domestic violence court

PUBLISHED July 6, 2006

VICTIMS of domestic violence in Suffolk could soon benefit from a specialist court with expert magistrates and improved provision for victims, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Members of the county's domestic violence and abuse forums are currently working on a bid to bring one of an additional 100 specialised courts to the county.

News of the potential specialised court comes as Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announces the county's domestic violence conviction rates.

The figures reveal that Suffolk had a conviction rate ten per cent above the national average between October and December last year with 69.3pc of cases resulting in conviction compared with 59pc in the country as a whole.

This figure has now increased further, with a 79.5pc conviction rate between January and March this year.

The new plans for the court would mean South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in Ipswich, would sit specifically for domestic violence cases on certain days and victims would have special provisions to keep them in separate areas from their partner.

Similar courts have been piloted across the country and have helped increase victims' confidence in the criminal justice system.

Hilary Cadman, director of Women's Aid in Ipswich, said the court could be a major step forward in increasing conviction rates.

She said: ?We are trying to convince the Government that this would be a really good place to run the next court because it will mean we can have specialist magistrates dealing with an issue that they will have a better understanding about.

?Ipswich has a very positive approach to domestic violence. The CPS sit on our county forum and liaise with us.?

Mike Crimp, CPS Suffolk's specialist in domestic violence, said: ?Although there is still much to do to ensure that this progress continues, today's figures are the result of working together with other criminal justice agencies to spread good practice, improve training and increase knowledge and awareness of domestic violence issues.

?Through ongoing consultation with voluntary organisations who work on behalf of domestic violence victims we are also making sure our policies and training take into consideration the views and concerns of victims.?