Vicki Morris, Centre for Justice Innovation
Instances of domestic abuse have risen sharply worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN has described this increase as a 'shadow pandemic' growing alongside the virus. In the UK, our family courts are seeing the effect of being confined to home on dramatically compounding intimate partner violence. Domestic violence remedy cases are at a record high and urgent care proceedings have risen sharply. The government's claim that it is prioritising packages of support for those at risk of and experiencing abuse during a time of social restrictions is welcomed. However, while short-term protections are of unquestionable importance, it is vital that we also look beyond the pandemic at the systems that support families. What the virus has done is thrown into sharp focus this issue which long predates the pandemic.
This article explores how a whole-family approach can be applied to tackling the issue of domestic abuse. Taking lessons from Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, it explores the value of holistic support and collaborative working around the family - whether parents or parenting together or separately, and whether they are the ones experiencing or perpetrating the abuse. It also considers the challenges of determining successful outcomes, considering the difficulties in achieving victim, sentencer and advocacy confidence in decisions and recommendations that are made.
The full article will be published in the January issue of Family Law.