A pilot project which has seen a dedicated domestic abuse court set up in Dunfermline has been hailed such a success it is to become a permanent fixture in the court programme, reports Gail Milne.
The specialist court has been piloted at Dunfermline Sheriff Court over the last year, since November 2010, but on 22 November it become a permanent fixture in the court programme.
Over the last year, it has dealt with more than 300 domestic abuse cases. These were set down for trial within eight to ten weeks of the case first calling in court.
The special court is designed to deal effectively with domestic abuse cases, bringing them swiftly to trial and ensuring consistency of approach for the better protection of victims.
The court seeks to replicate the success of the well-established Glasgow domestic abuse court, which has been running since 2004.
District Procurator Fiscal for Dunfermline, Fiona Cameron, said: “We recognise the benefits of a specialist approach to the prosecution of domestic abuse cases and have been piloting a domestic abuse court in Dunfermline over the last year.
“I am confident that this new court will prove to be an excellent resource, enhancing the service provided to victims through the timely, efficient and robust prosecution of these cases.
“COPFS will continue to work closely with the police, the Scottish Court Service, Fife Council Social Work Department and Fife Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership to robustly deal with anybody who commits this type of crime while supporting those affected by it.”
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Dickson, of Fife Constabulary Domestic Abuse Unit, said: “Fife Constabuary welcomes the official launch of the Domestic Abuse Court in Fife. Domestic Abuse comes in many forms and ruins lives.
“We have worked tirelessly with partners to continually develop processes throughout such investigations, to encourage reporting, protect victims and children and have offenders face the consequences of their actions.
“Victims and families need prompt action from all agencies and protection from the courts. Whilst the authority of the Courts will always remain rightly independent it provides an essential contribution to some excellent partnership work across Fife.
“The message again to people who carry out these offences is we will take robust action against you, your behaviour will not be tolerated or excused.”
Sheila Noble, co-ordinator of the Fife Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership, said: “I am really pleased this pilot court is to become permanent. It is a hugely important part of the jigsaw to tackling domestic abuse in Fife. We have seen improved services for victims over the years, but we really need to tackle the root of the problem and that means stopping the abuse in the first instance.
“We know domestic abuse has particularly high levels of repeat offences and a robust response from the criminal justice system is paramount to keeping victims, including any children, safe. We need to be clear that domestic abuse is not acceptable and that perpetrators will be dealt with appropriately.”
Margaret Collins, Service Manager at Fife Council Social Work Department, said: “Fife Criminal Justice Services will continue to support the domestic abuse court via providing specific group work and one to one interventions aimed at addressing behaviours of those individuals who commit such offences and are made subject to a statutory order. We will continue to work closely with all partner agencies with the aim of reducing the risk of re-offending and upholding public safety.”