The domestic abuse commissioner and victim’s commissioner have announced that the planned monitoring mechanism, which will aim to improve the way the family court responds to domestic abuse, will be implemented as a pilot starting in Spring 2022.

In a report released yesterday detailing the goals of the new system, the commissioners pointed at a need to ensure a culture of safety and protection from harm is present throughout the family justice system, whilst ensuring considerations concerning the needs of children and the impacts of domestic abuse are paramount. An increase in transparency and accountability relating to the handling of domestic abuse allegations within the family court is to be asserted, whilst a key aim will be to maintain an environment in which domestic abuse survivors feel able to raise the issue confidently and know they will be listened to and respected.

The new mechanism was recommended by a panel of experts reviewing the how the family courts deal with risk of harm to children and parents alike in private law children cases which involve domestic abuse and other offences. The panel suggested that a monitoring team should be present within the office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, in order to monitor and report on the family courts’ performance nationally in regards to protecting children and other victims from domestic abuse and general risk of harm in private law cases.

The initial pilot next spring will help scope the monitoring mechanism, by identifying which data can be collected to assist monitoring, whilst a ‘mixed methods monitoring pilot’ across three court areas, legal representation, pathways into court and how proceedings are conducted, will be implemented. Following 12 months, a report on the pilot will be produced detailing findings and a framework detailing how long term monitoring can be implemented on a national scale. Reacting to the announcement, Director and Head of Family Rachel Horman-Brown said: –

This is the first of many steps that will be required after the MOJ Harm Report identified that some victims of coercive control were being let down by the family court 

I very much look forward to hearing the outcome of this important pilot and looking at the recommendations going forward to ensure that victims are better protected

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