§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment the Government has made of whether to develop a systematic mandatory training scheme on domestic violence for(a) judges and magistrates, (b) expert witnesses, (c) CAFCASS and (d) police officers; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Leslie
The information is as follows:
Judges and Magistrates
My Department continues to work closely with the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) to develop training for judges and magistrates that takes account of the growing body of knowledge about domestic violence.
All judges on first appointment to part-time judicial office and all judges newly authorised to hear family cases are required to attend a relevant JSB residential induction seminar. Both full-time and part-time judges attend residential continuation seminars every three years in each jurisdiction they exercise. All induction and continuation seminars include discussion of domestic violence issues. Family law induction and continuation seminars include such issues in virtually every session within the seminar programmes.
Many judges in addition attend locally organised seminars. In 2002 the topic for the one-day Circuit Criminal Seminars, which are attended by all full and part-time judges sitting in the Crown court, was Domestic Violence.
The training of Magistrates is the statutory responsibility of individual Magistrates courts committees. Recently, the JSB in conjunction with the Magistrates Association produced a training package for magistrates, specifically on domestic violence. The objectives for the pack are that by the end of the course delegates will: be able to define domestic violence; recognise when domestic violence features in a case; and desrcibe how that recognition of domestic violence will impact on the conduct and disposal of a case and the treatment of any vulnerable individuals involved.
The programme of training for trainers began at the end of October. Magistrates courts committees will be encouraged to train their magistrates and legal advisers as soon as possible.
The Home Office supports, and part funds, the work of the Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP). The CRFP has rigorous procedures to ensure those persons admitted to the register have appropriate training, experience and expertise to act as experts. Currently there is no training, or requirement for training, in domestic violence involved in CRFP registration as it is not of direct relevance to the majority of registered practitioners.
CAFCASS's training programme for Family Court Advisors includes a module on domestic violence. This will be put into operation for the first time in November and December 2003. CAFCASS is also currently developing a policy on domestic violence, which will 126W include guidance and procedures for staff. This will be available in 2004 and CAFCASS will review staff training needs with regard to the finalised policy.
The Centrex 'Policing Responses to Domestic Violence' modular training programme was launched in 2002 and has been substantially developed and updated. The training programme was distributed to police force training managers and nominated domestic violence officers in August 2003. The Policing Responses to Domestic Violence E-learning material CD-Rom was launched in March 2003.
We will continue to identify and respond, as a matter of priority, to the needs of those suffering from domestic violence.