Domestic violence courts face closure in ConDem cuts

// 8 May 2011

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oldbaileyladyjustice.jpgOne in six specialist domestic violence courts will be shut down as a result of the cuts, the Law Society Gazette is reporting:

Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter has tabled a series of parliamentary questions to justice secretary Kenneth Clarke on the impact of the closures, due to be answered this week.

The Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVC) was introduced in 2005 to make it easier for victims to give evidence and bring more offenders to justice.

The scheme was hailed as an immediate success by government and court users, and within four years 127 had been established.

However, 23 SDVCs are among the 142 courts that the Ministry of Justice plans to close during this parliament as part of its cost-cutting measures.

Slaughter said: ‘These specialist courts are a proven success at getting domestic violence cases through trial by supporting vulnerable women.

‘Closing one in six is further evidence that the government is targeting women and gives the lie to its claim that it is only outdated courts that are being closed.’

The Law Society also quotes a representative from Refuge talking about the impact of the cuts and goes into more details. A Ministry of Justice press officer is quoted saying the “services” provided by these courts will continue, even if the court that housed them has been shut down, but it will definitely be interesting to see what kind of assurances Ken Clarke can come up with on this: on the face of it, yet another example of the cuts being directed at the most vulnerable.

Photo of Old Bailey by Joe Dunkley, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

sian norris // Posted 9 May 2011 at 10:01 am

10 downing street sent me a letter to inform me the letter i sent about these cuts is ‘being considered’ so will let you know what happens.

gingerbread // Posted 13 May 2011 at 9:54 pm

Disgust, rage, a sense of hopelessness – these are only a few of the feelings this news conjures up for me. The aim of the DV courts were to have Judges who were trained specifically in the area of Domestic Violence, who understood the dynamics of DV and how many perpetrators use the excuse of child contact as an extension of the court process but also to provide screens for those giving evidence in order to allow victims some protection.

How exactly are they going to ensure the needs of the Victims are met and the same level of “service” continues? Who are they accountable to? How are they going to monitor the “service” provided and how are they going to gain feedback? The details of family court proceeding are already hidden, those involved are not allowed to disclose details of the proceedings with the threat of prosecution if they do. 70% of court applications contain allegations of domestic violence. This will almost certainly place many victims (including the children) at risk. Where and whom did you address your letter to Sian?

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