Responding to the measures set out in today’s Queen Speech, APCC Chair Dame Vera Baird QC said:
“Within the Government’s policy programme, as set out in today’s Queen’s Speech, there are number of measures of interest to Police and Crime Commissioners that they will seek to engage on.
“One of these, is the Government’s Courts Bill, which contains important reforms which will help to modernise the courts system and improve the experience for those using it; often at a particularly traumatic time in their lives.
“The end to direct cross examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged perpetrators is long overdue. The increase in virtual trials and making the better use of modern technology are all areas we would support and would work with the Government to help introduce. We think that in particular virtual trials need to proceed with care but we are ready and willing to assist.
“Today’s draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill is to be welcomed in that it brings forward a series of measures to protect victims and provide greater clarity in the justice system. We look forward to working with the Government on this legislation and more generally in tackling domestic violence and abuse.
“We have been working for some time to ensure that all victims have the confidence to report these crimes, that the police will deal with these reports appropriately and that the right services are in place to support those affected.
“Domestic violence and abuse is totally unacceptable and tackling its causes and supporting its victims is a key priority for Police and Crime Commissioners. We know that the impact on victims and children that are witness to such crimes can be devastating. It is encouraging that more victims than ever before are feeling able to come forward and that the volume of prosecutions and convictions for domestic abuse are at the highest ever recorded.
“More broadly, we will welcome the focus on mental health. The number of police detentions under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act has increased dramatically over the last few years putting a huge strain on the police service.
“In terms of the Counter Terrorism Review, the first duty of any Government has to be the protection of its citizens and PCCs will continue to work closely with Chief Constables to make our communities a safe place to live and work.
“There are a number of key policing and criminal justice measures that were originally in the Conservative Party Manifesto that do not appear in today’s Queen Speech and the APCC will be seeking clarification on the status of these proposals in the coming weeks.”