Prosecution of domestic violence cases 28.11.07
Whilst the immediate arrest and removal of the abuser by police will often be helpful in providing many women and children with much needed ‘breathing space’ and time to consider what they should do, they may not always wish to proceed with a prosecution – and it may not always be in their best interests to do so.
The difficulties include the following:
- Women may be extremely reluctant to give evidence against someone whom they love or have loved, and with whom they share or have shared a home, and who may be the father of their children
- They may feel under pressure to protect the family reputation
- Women from Black and Minority Ethnic communities may be unwilling to risk community ostracism, and/or allegations of disloyalty or collusion with police racism
- Women are often at risk of further violence while waiting for a case to come to court: waiting times in criminal proceedings are very long and women will frequently be left without adequate legal protection while waiting for the case to come to court. Find out about a different approach to prosectution in the US
- Going to court can be an ordeal, and the outcome is uncertain (and may be unfavourable)
- Effective action under the criminal law may be undermined by civil and family court proceedings which can force women to have contact with violent men via the children, and by an unco-ordinated approach across the criminal and civil courts.