1. Domestic violence exists in most societies. It may be divided into emotional, physical, sexual and economic abuse. Prolonged domestic abuse impacts physically and emotionally upon the victim. Women and children are often at particular risk. The perpetrators of violence need to be pursued and brought to justice. In this process the prosecutor has an important role to play.
  2. Whereas physical abuse has always been treated as a crime, attitudes towards domestic violence have sometimes been ambivalent. It has sometimes been suggested that because an offence occurred in a purely domestic context, it was a matter of purely domestic concern. That view is wholly erroneous. It has been recognised in recent times that domestic violence is a blight on society which is associated with a variety of offences.
  3. Domestic violence has certain features :
  4. Domestic violence may refer to repeated incidents of physical force and verbal aggression arising in a private context, often involving a spouse or child. It may take many forms, such as sexual abuse, assault of one form or another and intimidation. Violence in a private context can have a devastating effect upon the victim as well as upon those with whom the victim has a family or close relationship, and those who suffer, witness it, or are aware of it may, particularly if they are of tender years, be severely affected by its consequences.
  5. Stopping domestic violence is a priority for the prosecutor. Cases which proceed must be prosecuted effectively, and a multi-agency approach is vital. Criminal proceedings are just one element of this approach, and criminal law and civil law may need to be used in conjunction. Some victims may not wish to pursue criminal action, preferring to make use of civil remedies and other safety and support mechanisms. In deciding whether to prosecute, the safety of the victim, children and other persons involved must be considered.
  6. Domestic violence is likely to become more frequent and more serious the longer it continues, and may even result in death. This means that proceedings may be required even if the victim does not want them. In such cases, the prosecutor will, through the police, make the fullest inquiries in order to ensure that the decision to prosecute is made against a background of all available information. Prosecutorial decisions must be taken within a framework that promotes the security of those at risk.