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Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts – How special were they in 2022?

Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts – a call for action

“Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts – How special were they in 2022?” is a report prepared by members of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer women’s organisation.

Some 160 members of the organisation have carried out structured observations of over 30 Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts across England.

The information in the report shows a clear increase in the number of victims of domestic abuse, yet the system which was established and developed over a five-year period in 1999 as a special form of Magistrates Court set up to hear and provide specific support to the victims of domestic abuse, is falling short of the service which the public has a right to expect from these courts.

Key findings include, amongst others:

·        Absence of specialist courts across the country. In some cases, this meant that victims of domestic abuse would need to travel for over an hour to access a court.

·        Lack of independent support to victims giving evidence in court.

·        Inadequate implementation of domestic abuse training given to court officials.

·        Lack of appropriate technology that would allow remote court appearances.

·        A clear need for a total review of the Victim Personal Statement system.

This report published on the 26 June 2023, together with three previous reports carried out by Soroptimist court observers in Northumbria (in 2018), Wiltshire (in 2018) and the West Midlands (in 2020), show something very close to a comprehensive report on the way in which the Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts (SDAC) are working on a national basis.

We draw your attention to the recommendations made in this new report which seek to improve the workings of this system with a particular emphasis on positive experiences and outcomes for the victims.

Members of Soroptimist International across England are urging the Government to take immediate action to protect victims of domestic abuse seeking justice and to prevent the SDAC system from abusing them all over again.

Click on the following  Specialist-Domestic-Abuse-Courts-How-special-were-they-in-2022 Full Report  to read the full report

Please share this and raise awareness of the issues here and the work that still needs to be undertaken.

Published 9 July 2023