Hertfordshire has 2 Specialist Domestic Violence Courts operating within the Magistrate’s Courts in St Albans and Stevenage. Both run 1 day a week and relevant Domestic Abuse cases should be heard at either of these.
An Independent Domestic Violence Advisor can give support to the victim from beginning to end and sit in the court on these days. In cases where the victim needs to attend, it can be arranged for the victim to enter the court through a separate entrance, which has it's own waiting area, away from the perpetrator and their family or representatives. Evidence can be given behind screens or via video link where appropriate.
The Specialist Domestic Violence Courts are dedicated to making the victim feel as safe as possible, bringing domestic abuse perpetrators to court more quickly, and ensuring that staff working within the Specialist Domestic Violence Court, including the magistrates, have dedicated training and knowledge of the subject.
The main benefits of the specialist courts are their effectiveness in helping trials reach a successful outcome as well as aiming to provide a less traumatic experience for victims.
Agencies and organisations involved in the Specialist Domestic Violence Court process include:
- Her Majesty’s Court Service
- Crown Prosecution Service (including the Witness Care Unit)
- Local Authorities
- Specialist local support services such as Victim Support and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
- The Court based Witness Service