Lockdown exacerbating problems with corroborating domestic abuse

Lockdown exacerbating problems with corroborating domestic abuse

Dr Ilona Cairns (left) and Dr Isla Callander

Lockdown and social distancing measures may exacerbate the difficulties with corroborating domestic abuse, academics at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Law have warned.

Dr Ilona Cairns and Dr Isla Callander – both of whom teach and research in the areas of criminal law, criminal evidence and family law – draw on well-established issues in domestic abuse prosecutions and recent legal developments, including the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, to make a range of observations.

The researchers suggest that lockdown and social distancing measures may affect both reporting practices and the sources of evidence available, and therefore exacerbate the well-known difficulties with corroborating domestic abuse. They also discuss in detail how lengthy delays to criminal trials may affect victims and justice outcomes through, for example, increasing trauma and retraction rates, and consider a host of concerns arising from children’s potential increased exposure to domestic abuse in the home.

Although the posts focus on criminal justice issues, Dr Cairns and Dr Callander briefly raise the issue of civil protection measures, questioning how reduced access to civil justice may impact upon the level of protection available to victims of domestic abuse.

While they are focused on Scotland, many of the observations in the posts will be relevant to other jurisdictions which are also experiencing the ‘shadow pandemic’ (UN Women) of domestic abuse.

The full posts are available on the University of Aberdeen’s School of Law blog page.

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