Family courts will be reformed to better support victims of domestic abuse, it has been announced.
It comes after the launch of a new pilot aimed to improve data sharing between agencies – such as the police, local authorities, and the courts – to “spare victims the trauma of having to unnecessarily repeat their experiences”.
The latest research shows that victims of abuse may avoid having to go to court due to the fear of being confronted by their abusive partner.
Under the pilot scheme, local domestic abuse professionals could be drafted in to share risk assessments with the court to support victims. Judges would also be allowed to request documentation before a case reaches court, avoiding details of the dispute “being debated in the courtroom”.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has also outlined plans to encourage “proceedings to be less adversarial so that more emphasis can be put into investigating and addressing allegations of domestic abuse”.
The pilot would also “boost the voice of children” at “every stage of the process”, ensuring “they are listened to and their views are taken into account when decisions are made about their futures”, the department said.
Commenting on the plans, Justice Minister Lord Wolfson said: “This government is doing everything we can to protect victims, make them feel safer, and give them greater confidence in the justice system.
“These pilots will help ensure victims of domestic abuse aren’t further traumatised by the court process and that better decisions are made about their and their children’s lives.
“This, alongside our landmark Domestic Abuse Act, will ensure that victims are loudly heard and fully supported.”
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