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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 05:34 GMT 06:34 UK
New approach to domestic abuse
Woman in distress - generic
It is hoped more cases will make it to court
A court dedicated to dealing with domestic abuse cases is to start operating in Glasgow.

The system has been designed to create a victim-centred service with dedicated sheriffs and procurators fiscal to fast track proceedings.

The pilot begins on Monday at Glasgow Sheriff Court and aims to bring the accused to trial within 40 days.

It will cover the south side of the city, where domestic abuse accounts for 10% of cases.

The new service will provide information and support to help victims pursue their allegations to the courtroom in an attempt to avoid complaints being withdrawn.

It's an opportunity to support women, children and young people who are experiencing domestic abuse
Mhairi McGowan
Women's Aid
Arrangements will also be made to ensure that people are given access to continuing support.

Sentencing could include referral to perpetrator programmes and making it a condition of bail that the accused cannot approach the victim.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: "More and more women are now reporting incidents to the police and this specialist court will fast-track cases and ensure women get the proper support to help them through these traumatic times.

"We will monitor this pilot closely to learn from it and see if this service can be rolled out across Scotland."

'Effective' justice

The pilot covers the south of Glasgow, including Castlemilk, Govan, Pollok, Cardonald and the Gorbals, where there were an estimated 2,250 incidents involving domestic abuse in 2002/03.

Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen said: "The establishment of this domestic abuse court, as part of a modern court structure, demonstrates a commitment to dealing with this problem firmly and effectively."

Mhairi McGowan of Scottish Women's Aid welcomed the development.

She said: "It's an opportunity to support women, children and young people who are experiencing domestic abuse by holding the perpetrator accountable for his violence quickly.

"The new support service, Assist, will hopefully be able to co-ordinate all the different agencies involved and ensure we make a real difference to the lives of women and children."

Assist has been established to help victims before and after the case has gone through the specialist court.


SEE ALSO:
Abuse helpline becomes permanent
08 Jul 04  |  Scotland
Plea for domestic abuse victims
24 Jun 04  |  Scotland
Funding for rape crisis centres
23 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Abuse campaign to be widened
19 Feb 03  |  Scotland


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