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Stewart

Stewart Dodd

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: South Australia Emergency Services > Police
Social Welfare > Domestic Violence
To examine police methods to achieve a successful prosecution of domestic violence offenders - Canada, USA
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Conclusion

The Family Safety Framework, in particular the Family Safety Meeting, is akin to the Situation Tables that occur across Ontario. However, it is apparent that the advantage of the Family Safety Meetings is the pre-established information sharing protocols that facilitate a free flow of information between relevant agencies. The Situation Tables do have the advantage that they can be used for other crime orientated problems within the community.

Reducing domestic violence is a community issue; however police have a lead role in the community. A key strategy for police in responding to domestic violence is the successful prosecution of offenders through the courts. At the outset this research was aimed at identifying a better way for police to put a domestic violence matter before the court that had less reliance on victim engagement and therefore promote a greater chance of conviction.

As this research progressed it soon became apparent that the difficulties faced by police, the judiciary, government and non-government agencies in combating domestic violence are common across Australia, Canada and the USA. I have no doubt the commonality is more wide spread across the world, but this research focussed on these three countries. There is no silver bullet which provides an all-encompassing answer to the problem of domestic violence. All of the initiatives that have been discussed in this paper play an important role in the multi-faceted approach to domestic violence. A key objective of this research was to identify best practice for addressing domestic violence and then comparing with those practices with South Australia. A natural consequence of this comparison is to high light gaps in what is done in South Australia. However and equally important consequence is the opportunity to validate what South Australia is doing is appropriate. This paper has made five recommendations to improve some aspects of service delivery within South Australia which are not significant changes. This supports the conclusion that South Australia is comparable, if not more advanced in some aspects, in combating domestic violence. 

The results of this research will be provided to the SAPOL Domestic Abuse Portfolio Governance Committee which provides strategic direction, leadership and oversight of SAPOL’s response to domestic violence. The committee coordinates policy improvement through partnerships with government and non-government agencies. SAPOL is also in a position to advocate to government for legislative change should that be deemed appropriate.

Recommendations

  1. Consider the expansion of the Family and Domestic Violence Branch to enable an auditing and quality assurance role in front line policing.
  2. Consider re-locating the Multi Agency Hub to the Adelaide Magistrate Court precinct and embedding domestic violence prosecutors within the service.
  3. Consider the co-location of the Multi Agency Assessment Unit and the Multi Agency Protection Service to provide a holistic approach to child abuse and domestic violence risks
  4. Consider repealing Section 21 of the Evidence Act.
  5. Consider the expansion of the Abuse Prevention Program to include females and increased availability.
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