Specialist court set up for victims of domestic violence

04/07/2013

Local criminal justice agencies and the voluntary sector have teamed up together in Birmingham to support victims of domestic violence and bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice.

On Wednesday 10 July 2013, a Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVC) will be set up at Birmingham Magistrates' court which will only deal with domestic violence offences which have been committed in Birmingham. 

The court will bring together specially trained police officers, prosecutors, court service staff, probation officers as well as Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) who will all work together in order to support victims of domestic violence and prosecute such cases.

The IDVA, employed by Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid, will be on hand to support any victims. They will also assist the prosecutor with information that may help with issues concerning bail risk assessments. A police liaison officer will be present to further assist in relation to background information concerning accused defendants, as well as providing anything that might be required, such as details of compensation or a restraining order.

Andy Crump, Senior Crown Prosecutor and Domestic Violence Co-ordinator from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Domestic violence is serious and pernicious. It ruins lives, breaks up families and has a lasting impact. It is criminal.

"The criminal justice agencies in Birmingham have been working together to examine how we can support victims of domestic violence during the prosecution process, which can be daunting and upsetting for most victims. This holistic multi-agency approach should lead to  cases being dealt with more effectively as well as providing a dedicated support to victims.

"Specially trained prosecutors will conduct these cases who will possess the awareness and knowledge to deal with the various domestic violence issues which may occur in court. 

"The aim of this court will be to safeguard victims by handling cases as effectively and expeditiously as possible which we hope will support the victim as well as maximise the number of perpetrators brought to justice. 

"We will continue to work closely with our partners and support groups in order to improve the investigation, help victims and ensure we robustly prosecute these forms of crimes. 

"I would like to take this opportunity of encouraging anybody who has been a victim of crime to come forward and report it. Please do not suffer in silence."

Detective Inspector Kim Madill the West Midlands Police Lead for Domestic Abuse, said:

"The introduction of this court demonstrates how seriously domestic abuse offending is taken by all agencies in Birmingham.

"Domestic abuse is an under reported crime. It can affect anybody - men, women or children - from all backgrounds. 

"The introduction of this specialist court shows how police are working together with partner agencies to provide support and help victims escape from domestic abuse and we would encourage anyone who is suffering domestic abuse or if you are worried that someone you know is a victim to contact police so that action can be taken against the perpetrators and victims can be protected."

Maureen Connolly, Chief Executive of Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid, said:

"We welcome the reintroduction of a specialist domestic violence court in Birmingham. We hope that the knowledge that there are specialist domestic violence workers within the court who understand how daunting attending court can be for victims and are able to offer support throughout the process encourages more women to feel able to take the brave step of reporting their experiences of abuse to the police and pursue perpetrators through the criminal court."