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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2010PSSG0002-000035

Jan. 18, 2010

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

 

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACTION PLAN LAUNCHED

 

VICTORIA - The B.C. government is taking immediate action to protect victims of domestic violence and ensure offender accountability, Solicitor General Kash Heed announced today.

 

            “As a former police officer, I've dealt first-hand with the tragic consequences of domestic violence,” said Heed. “Now, as Solicitor General I'm able to help victims of domestic violence by leading systemic change that will help first responders, support workers, the courts and communities to deal more effectively with domestic violence through better training, standardized policy, more coordination and prevention."

 

Effective immediately government will:

 

·         Support the establishment of a domestic violence unit in the Capital Regional District. Government will make resources available for the unit, including a victim service worker and child services worker who will be dedicated to and co-located with the unit.

·         Convene a death review panel in the BC Coroner's service to look at domestic violence cases with the goal of preventing similar incidents in the future. The panel of experts will be in place by mid-March and will look at cases between 1995 and 2009 with varying circumstances which will include impacts on both spouses and children. A death review panel reviews the facts and circumstances of deaths in order to provide advice to the chief coroner with respect to medical, legal, social welfare and other matters that may impact public health and safety and the prevention of deaths.

·         Establish a uniform policy for investigations of all instances of domestic violence.

·         Take steps to ensure that all reported instances of domestic violence are flagged as such ("K" files) in the provincial police data base (PRIME), and other justice data bases, so that it is clear to all service providers that the file is a domestic violence case requiring special attention.

 

In addition, to proactively identify and target high-risk offenders, government will:

 

·         Establish a standard set of bail conditions to be requested for accused that have been identified as high-risk in order to better protect victims. For example, this will include making sure the court is asked to ensure high risk accused have a fixed address where the court deems bail is appropriate.

·         Create a standardized checklist of factors such as past violent behaviour and family dynamics that may indicate a suspect is high risk.

·         Develop cross-agency domestic violence policies that set out the obligations and commitments for all ministries, policing agencies, Crown and service providers involved in high-risk domestic violence cases.

 

            “The Lee/Park inquest and the report from the Representative for Children and Youth, as well as a number of other reports on domestic violence, have produced additional recommendations and ideas that warrant further review," said Heed. “I’ve appointed an inter-ministry task force of senior officials that will be directly responsible to me and if we need to make more changes we will.”

 

            The task force has been mandated to provide advice and a plan to move forward to Government in the next 60 days.

 

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A backgrounder follows.

 

Media Contact:

 

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

250 356-6961

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.

 

 

 


 

BACKGROUNDER

 

Jan. 18, 2010                                                           Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

 

WORK ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CURRENTLY UNDERWAY

 

 

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

 

In 2009, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General spent more than $43.5 million for services to victims of violence – a $2.8-million increase over 2008.

 

All police officers in BC who investigate domestic violence or those who supervise these investigations are required to complete an online course by November, 2011.  Police with this training are better equipped to define domestic violence, clarify their own role and ensure victim safety. One hundred officers have already taken the course and 300 are currently taking it. The course will also become part of the recruit training at the Justice Institute of BC and part of the RCMP field coaching program for new cadets posted to BC.

 

 

Ministry of Attorney General

 

The Ministry of Attorney General is conducting a comprehensive review of the Family Relations Act to assess whether and how the family laws could better address domestic violence. In addition, domestic violence cases in British Columbia are treated as criminal matters by the provincial criminal justice branch. Since 2001, Crown prosecutors have been given more discretion in providing court-ordered protections.

 

The criminal justice branch continues to maintain a strong commitment to domestic violence prosecutions. The branch has a senior prosecutor at headquarters who is devoted to domestic violence -- and victims and vulnerable witnesses. All new Crown counsel receive specific training in domestic violence prosecutions. Ongoing training is available to other prosecutors at annual conferences.

 

 

Ministry of Housing and Social Development

 

The Province is strongly committed to providing housing programs and support services for women and children, with a priority on local services at the community level. B.C.’s 63 transition houses provide 664 beds in 57 communities.

Transition houses provide temporary housing for women and children fleeing abusive relationships with a maximum stay of 30 days. When women leave transition houses, they receive priority for subsidized social housing units through the Priority Placement Program. Approximately 900 women have found affordable housing through priority placement since the program began in the mid-1990s.


 

 

Ministry of Children and Family Development

 

MCFD is currently working with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and the Ministry of Attorney General to improve coordination of frontline services provided to victims of domestic violence. Priority areas include the review of policies and practices related to information sharing, risk assessment, safety planning, cross-ministry training and ensuring appropriate referrals for intervention and support services.

Joint ministry initiatives to better coordinate and respond to domestic violence situations are currently operating throughout the province. For example, in Victoria, MCFD has signed a step-by-step protocol agreement with Victoria area police forces to ensure more effective communication. Educational sessions were organized to inform staff of the process in addition to joint education sessions with police.

 

 

Ministry of Education

 

A number of courses are offered to B.C. students to address domestic violence and relationships in general.

 

Health and Career Education curriculum is mandatory for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 9. Beginning in Kindergarten, students learn about healthy behaviours in families and relationships. These lessons are expanded to explore healthy boundaries and interpersonal relationships in later grades. Planning 10 is also mandatory and provides students with additional opportunities to understand the skills needed to build and maintain healthy relationships.

 

There are also two elective courses, Social Justice 12 and Law 12 that teach students to apply principles of social justice including situations related to women, like domestic violence and components dealing with Criminal Law and Family Law.

 

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Media Contact:

 

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

250 356-6961

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.