Department of Justice     



The Framework for Action Against Family Violence is premised on the recognition that a law is only as good as the system which delivers on its promises, and that the failure of police, prosecutors, courts and related institutions and services to keep up with legislative progress or to properly implement the law can have a serious detrimental impact on efforts to combat domestic violence. Introduced in September 1995, the Framework responded to three reports that shared the conclusion that what was needed to combat family violence was not legislative reform, but rather a comprehensive strategy to improve the response of the criminal justice system to family violence. Each of these reports recommended that the justice system adopt a pro-charge, pro-arrest, pro-prosecution policy.(1)

The Framework for Action Against Family Violence addresses violence between intimate partners. It comprised the following six key components:

  • improved procedures for responding to family violence based on a pro-arrest, pro-charge, pro-prosecution policy and the need for clear direction for the benefit of justice workers, community agencies, and the public;(2)
  • a comprehensive training program for all justice workers to assist them in understanding the dynamics of family violence, their specific responsibilities in responding to incidents of domestic violence, and the role and responsibilities of other justice workers and community agencies;(3)
  • enhanced victim support services to support the victim, to protect them from harm, and to encourage their participation in the court process;(4)
  • interagency coordination based on the recognition that the effectiveness of the response of the justice system to family violence is dependent on improved collaboration and cooperation among all organizations and individuals who play a role in addressing family violence;(5)
  • accountability of the justice system for its response to family violence and adherence to specific directives and protocols through the establishment of structured audit mechanisms by each justice agency and regular public reporting;(6)

  • - and -
  • advocacy initiatives by criminal justice agencies to ensure that the public understands and accepts the role of the criminal justice system in responding to family violence and to enlist the support of the community for strong measures by justice agencies.(7)

In addition to the development of policies and procedures and the training of justice workers who would implement the policy, government committed additional resources to fund community-based victim support projects to assist victims going through the justice system. Some justice agencies developed an audit process to ensure adherence to policy. Interagency Committees on Family Violence throughout the province provided local interagency coordination. Overall coordination at the provincial policy level, training, public education, and interagency support was provided by the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, a government-community committee reporting to the Deputy Ministers' Committee on Social Policy, comprised of five deputies representing the Departments of Health, Justice, Community Services, Education, and Housing. The Department of Justice Family Violence Committee provided planning and coordination in the justice arena. As noted above, the Framework was evaluated by the Department of Justice Monitoring Committee in 1999.

The following section of this report summarizes: the requirements established by the Framework for each justice agency in order to implement the pro-arrest, pro-charge, pro-prosecution policy; the findings of the 1999 Evaluation Report; the comments made in relation to each justice agency in the focus group sessions conducted as part of the current review, and any initiatives or precedents from other jurisdictions that might be useful in Nova Scotia. The comments made by participants in the May to June 1997 consultation sessions are summarized in order to underline the continuing nature of some concerns.(8)

1. Supra notes 11, 12, 13.

2. Supra note 10 at 2.

3. Supra note 10 at 6.

4. Supra note 10 at 7.

5. Supra note 10 at 8.

6. Supra note 10 at 7.

7. Supra note 10 at 8.

8. The 1999 Evaluation Report had available to it the results of consultation sessions held in May and June 1997 with 150 managers and front-line workers from all components of the justice system throughout the province concerning the effectiveness and workability of the Framework for Action and its related policies and operational procedures (supra note 14 at 24-36).(9)


40 1999 Review Report, pp. 24 - 36.


[Government of Nova Scotia Home Page] [Department of Justice Home Page] [NS Government Index] [Search NS Government Site]
This page and all contents are copyright © 1998-2001, Province of Nova Scotia,
all rights reserved.  Privacy Please send comments to:  Registry of Regulations