The Crown Prosecution Service has previously been quite rightly criticised for including male victims as victims of violence against women and girls, a completely indefensible position. The rates of prosecution for female perpetrators and protection of male victims is completely out of step with the numbers of victims consistently reported by the ONS crime survey of England and Wales.
Original FOI Request to the CPS
In your report on Violence Against Women and Girls https://www.cps.gov.uk/publication/violence-against-women-and-girls you state that:
“All prosecutors were trained in two new mandatory DA e-learning modules on evidence-led prosecutions and coercive control during 2017–18 and an aide-memoire based on these e-learning modules was shared with the police.”
Please provide copies of the content of these e-learning modules on Domestic Abuse, any associated training materials used and the aide-memoire that has been shared with police.
Response from CPS
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Legal Development Programme has developed two mandatory e-learning courses, together with an additional Prosecuting Domestic Abuse course.
Disclosure of the content of the training courses and associated material is exempt under Section 31 (1) (c) of the Freedom of Information Act. For more details relating to this exemption please see the attached Section 17 Notice.
The Section 17 Notice says:
FOI Ref: 8065 Section 17 Notice under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Section 31(1)(c) – Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the administration of justice.
The disclosure of the content of internal training courses, modules and/or aide-memoires could inhibit the ability of the CPS to conduct proceedings fairly. This is a qualified exemption which means that the decision to disclose the requested material is subject to the public interest test. It may assist you to understand the decision if the public interest factors taken into account in this case is explained: Public interest factors for disclosure: To increase public understanding of the CPS decision making and prosecuting process. Public interest factors against disclosure: The CPS publishes a vast amount of legal guidance on the CPS website in order to be transparent and increase the public understanding of our practices and processes. However, some information needs to be withheld to protect the prosecuting process. The internal operational guidance is there to support those involved in the prosecution process. Disclosure to the world at large and those working for the defence would impede the work of prosecutors and reduce their effectiveness in prosecuting. It is in the public interest that the CPS is confident in its ability to prosecute fairly and without prejudice to their processes.
Legal guidance relating to domestic abuse can be accessed on the CPS website via the following link: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/domestic-abuse-guidelines-prosecutors
On balance, I consider the public interest favours maintaining the exemption.
The internal review request failed (which is common at first attempt) as the reviewer upheld the original decision (which is increasingly common amongst Government Depts.
We don’t believe that the Public Interest test and the exemption applied by the CPS is valid.
Conclusion Drawn by Researcher
The CPS is obliged by the public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination against protected characteristics, one of those being sex. Clearly the CPS has failed to gain the public’s trust in the way it deals with Domestic Abuse and discrimination and should demonstrate, by publication of the training materials it uses in the identification and prosecution of Domestic Abuse that it is complying with its duties under the Equality Act 2010
In a Family Law system designed for combative parents there is no real allowance for the views of children and any understanding of how Family Law ultimately impacts on children most of all.
We speak for the children in Family Law so that, finally, the children have a voice.