It can be a very stressful and isolating experience for a person when a case of domestic violence is progressing through the court.
The Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVC) process offers a specialist service to ensure victims of domestic abuse receive a fair service and that perpetrators of domestic abuse are brought to justice and held to account for their crimes. This system provides dedicated time for court slots to hear local domestic violence and abuse cases. The Magistrates sitting in the SDVC have been trained in domestic abuse as have the Legal Advisors, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Probation Service and the Witness Service.
Some of the most serious domestic abuse cases will be heard at the Crown Court. All of the support processes described above are available to the victim if the case is to be heard at Crown Court.
We also offer advice and support for any high risk individual needing to access protection within the Civil Law. This can include Injunctions (Non-Molestation Orders, Occupation Orders, Forced Marriage Protection Orders), Protection from Harassment Act Orders and Stalking.
We have therefore designed a system to provide a wrap-around service to high risk victims from point of crisis to sentence. Support offered includes:
- Pre-court visits if a case is going to trial (i.e. the offender has pleaded not guilty) to ensure the victim is familiar with the court room and the roles of the agencies in it
- Support for the individual affected to prepare Victim Personal Statements so that following a guilty plea or finding of guilt after a trial, the Magistrates will be able to hear about the impact of the offence on the victim in their own words
- Your advisor will also attend trials with a victim to ensure they are fully supported at court
- Special arrangements can be made for victims and witnesses. These can include separate entrances and waiting areas. In addition, the courtrooms will accommodate the use of screens and giving evidence by video link to help the victim give the best possible evidence and not be intimidated by the perpetrator
- We also have a dedicated SDVC advisor who attends every hearing. They undertake a range of tasks including:
- Liaising with court professionals to input the wishes of the victim if they are not at court.
- Working closely with other advisors to understand the current circumstances of the victims whose cases are at court and if there is limited up to date knowledge they will contact the victim direct.
- Advocating for the victim as there is often valuable information that would assist the prosecution that they do not know. For example, this may be about inputting the victim’s views about whether a Restraining Order would be helpful for safety, proposed changes to bail conditions by the defendant or current issues regarding social care and children’s concerns.
- Advising court personnel on domestic abuse issues and contributing to a growth in their domestic abuse awareness
The SDVC process in Cornwall was launched in 2008 and operates from Truro Magistrates Court every Tuesday and from Bodmin Magistrates Court every Thursday.
We can also provide information about Family Court Children’s Issues to include Contact & Residence, Parental Responsibility, CAFCASS, Specific Issues Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders.