Northamptonshire courts set up domestic violence pilot

A special court dealing solely with domestic violence cases has been sitting in Northampton for the first time.

The six-month pilot at Northampton Magistrates is aimed at increasing the number of successful prosecutions.

The court will sit every Thursday and is supported by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Northamptonshire Police said it investigates around 200 high-risk domestic violence cases each month.

'Positive step'

Det Sgt Phil Mills said: "We want to try to encourage people to report incidents and help them to get safe and stay safe."

The CPS said it would also be looking at giving magistrates more training to deal with cases.

The success of the pilot would be measured by the number of guilty pleas at first hearings, which will determine whether the courts become permanent.

A spokesman from the Department of Justice said: "The accreditation process for a Specialist Domestic Violence Court requires criminal justice agencies and local authorities demonstrating that they have the infrastructure, services and training.

"This includes the provision of independent domestic violence advocates to support victims of domestic violence and to bring offenders to justice."

Wendy Lovell from Women's Aid, a charity that supports victims of domestic violence, said: "We have been trying to get this special court for some time so we feel it is a very positive step."

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