Framework for Action Against Family Violence - 2001 Review

Recommendation Responsibility Action Time Frame

Develop and deliver ongoing training for police and other justice workers
All justice components, coordinated by the DoJ in collaboration with DCS and community agencies A Justice Learning Centre will be established in Truro by the Department of Justice in partnership wth the Nova Scotia Community College to serve as a focal point for training of justice workers.

Training will focus on protocols for interagency collaboration in response to incidents of spousal/partner violence (see 8.2). A training coordinator, shared by the Departments of Justice and Community Services, will be contracted for one year to develop training modules for roll-out by departments/agencies at the local level.

It is anticipated that some components of the training will be delivered via distance education technology.

Orientation/policy and procedures manuals will be updated to ensure relevant, updated information regarding response to family violence is included

Training will include sensitization to the special circumstances of Aboriginal and diversity groups in order to enhance the response of the justice system to reports of family violence in these communities.

A specialized training program regarding the proposed domestic violence legislation (see 11.1) will be developed and delivered to police, justices of the peace and court staff.

To commence in Spring of 2002, implemented over a 2 year period.

If and when legislation is passed.

Establish specialized domestic violence investigative units (metropolitan areas)

Police forces Recommendation to be referred to police forces for review/response Fall 2001
Establish process/mechanism for thorough investigation and follow-up in difficult cases (each municipality)

Each municipality to have crime prevention/victims' services coordinator within its police force

Police and Public Safety Services (DoJ)

Police forces

Standard operating procedures for law enforcement agencies will be enhanced by the Police and Public Safety Services Division, Department of Justice, to ensure thorough investigation and follow-up in difficult cases. (Also see 8.2)

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice has recognized that crime prevention/victim services is a core policing function which should be provided by all police forces. (See also 5.1)

Spring 2002

Refer issue of conflicting orders to the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Chief Judge of the Family Court


Court Services (DoJ)

Discussions have taken place with the Chiefs of the various courts. Court staff will implement procedures to ensure that information regarding previous peace bonds and other orders is obtained from clients. The appropriate use of peace bonds is addressed in Framework policy and procedure for court staff in order to promote consistent practice. To commence immediately

Seek legal advice from Crown prosecutors in difficult cases

Police and Public Safety Services (DoJ)

Public Prosecution Service

Protocols will be implemented to address the issue of cross-charging and included in standard operating procedures for police. These will incorporate a primary aggressor policy and guidelines for seeking Crown advice in difficult cases. Protocol development to commence immediately

Consider adoption of a primary aggressor policy

see above

Review procedures to ensure victims and Victims' Services are informed regarding interim release

Police and Public Safety Services (DoJ)

Public Prosecution Service

Victims' Services (DoJ)

Framework protocols require that victims be informed regarding the interim release of an alleged perpetrator. Consultation with the Public Prosecution Service and Victims' Services regional staff revealed practical problems with notification (i.e. frequent changes of victim address, no telephones, evening/weekend release, unique problems in rural areas). This issue will be referred to the DoJ/PPS Family Violence Committee to develop mechanisms to improve coordination.

Document domestic dispute calls

Police and Public Safety Services (DoJ) Requirement to document domestic dispute calls will be incorporated in Framework policies, reinforced through standard operating procedures, and monitored through the audit process. Enhancement of policies to commence immediately


Maintain a pro-charge, pro-prosecution philosophy as the cornerstone of the Framework; goal: secure convictions; enhance victim satisfaction

Management Committee (PPS)

Police agencies

It is important for the public to understand the role of the Crown attorney.

Goal is not to secure convictions but "to seek justice by prosecuting offences competently with fairness and equal treatment for all persons"

A "prosecution" includes the laying of a charge in order to maintain compliance on the part of an accused with remedial measures in that minority of cases where another mode of prosecution is followed (e.g., early intervention pilot project if and when project is initiated - see 2.5).

The responsibility for laying criminal charges rests with the police.

While Crown Attorneys are sensitive to the concerns of complainants, the role of the Crown Attorney is broader than being only the complainant's advocate. For example, sometimes victims do not wish to proceed with a prosecution and the Crown Attorney, seeking what is in the public interest and in the best interest of the administration of justice, will proceed with the prosecution notwithstanding a complainant's wishes.

The Crown must make reasonable efforts to obtain an early court date; prosecute cases where evidence exists regardless of victim/complainant wishes unless public interest considerations dictate otherwise; provide opportunity for complainant/victim and witnesses to meet with Crown attorney prior to trial; request no contact orders in appropriate circumstances and prosecute violations; inform victim/complainant of right to submit a victim impact statement to court and that they can be permitted to read it to the Court. Although the Crown refers complainants/victims to provincial Victims' Services, it should be noted that such referrals will also be made by police at an earlier stage of the process to ensure victim support at the earliest possible stage.

Implement ongoing training for Crown in content areas specified

Management Committee and Education Development Committee (PPS) On-going training and education regarding specific areas of law relevant to spousal/partner violence is being done. This training can and will be increased. See 1.1
Allocate sufficient resources to PPS for effective prosecution

Government of Nova Scotia Additional resources cannot be allocated due to fiscal restraint.

Complete PPS internal audit

PPS Management Committee The spousal/partner violence prosecution internal PPS audit will be completed shortly. Individual meetings between Chief Crown Attorneys and individual Crowns attorneys will be held to discuss audit findings. Fall 2001
Establish system for on-going monitoring to ensure compliance with Framework policies

PPS Management Committee While ongoing monitoring does occur, a comprehensive audit must be deferred until additional funding is available.
Initiate a diversion pilot project according to guidelines specified in 2.5 and 2.6, e.g. site selection, resource allocation, sufficient treatment programs, monitoring/measurement, criteria for inclusion of cases, on-going PPS commitment to training



The Department of Justice And Public Prosecution Service accept the recommendation in principle. Implementation deferred due to fiscal restraint.

Undertake detailed study of the organization and operation of specialized domestic violence courts in other jurisdictions



Examination of the organization and operation of specialized domestic violence courts has been undertaken by the DoJ and the FPT Working Group on Spousal Abuse, of which the Nova Scotia DoJ is a member. Preliminary findings are consistent with those contained in the Russell report, suggesting that specialized courts (and processes) can be effective in achieving the goals of expediting the court process; increasing victims cooperation and reducing stay rates; prosecuting charges more effectively; providing better support for victims; and accessing intervention programs for batterers. However, the costs associated with the establishment and operation of specialized courts are significant. Due to fiscal restraint, it is proposed that this recommendation not be implemented at this time.

Initiate a specialized domestic violence court as a pilot project in HRM, with possible expansion based on monitoring results

as above See above. It should be noted, however, that initiatives can and will be taken within the existing court system to improve the response to spousal/partner abuse, such as improved scheduling, increased information to clients, etc.

Implement measures for some specialization in small communities

as above See above


Provide training to Justices of the Peace

Court Services (DoJ) A new system of justices of the peace is being implemented by the Department of Justice. The critical role of JPs in responding to spousal abuse will be considered in the development of the new system. Training will be provided to JPs to prepare them for their role in processing spousal abuse cases, specifically with respect to the proposed provincial domestic violence legislation (see 11.1) Contingent upon passage of legislation

Distribute Russell report to the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, for the purposes identified

DoJ The report has been provided to the Chiefs of the various courts.

Develop a risk assessment and management tool for use by police, Crown, and Corrections

Victims' Services (DoJ)

DoJ/PPS Family Violence Committee

A workshop on risk assessment, sponsored by the Victims' Services Division, Department of Justice, was held in September 2001, with participation from all components of the justice system, as well as community agencies and other government departments.. Standardized risk assessment tools will be identified for use by justice workers. Spring 2002

Implement the prototype information system, developed in 1994 to track performance of the justice system

IT Division (DoJ) The prototype system is being studied by the IT Division of the Department of Justice. Preliminary results suggest that although the model is sound, the lack of an integrated justice information system prevents data from being transmitted electronically to a central repository in order for a consolidation of information from all components of the justice system to occur. Further analysis is ongoing.

In the interim, DoJ will institute a manual monitoring system to track the progression of spousal/partner violence cases through the justice system and monitor emergency intervention orders. (See 11.3)

Analysis underway

Fall 2001



Allocate adequate funding to Corrections to reduce caseloads for probation officers

Correctional Services (DoJ) Correctional Services (DoJ) is considering option of designating staff with expertise in family violence (based on conditional sentence supervision model). Additional resources cannot be allocated due to fiscal restraint. Analysis underway

Provide training to Corrections staff on the effective and consistent application of the Framework

as above see 1.1 above

Establish procedures to flag files for Corrections application of Framework policies

as above Warrants of Committal are flagged on the JOIS alerts system if a victim is listed on the WOC and a no contact order is in place. Correctional Service will work with Court Services to ensure that relevant information is always conveyed from the courts to corrections. Correctional Services is also preparing a policy to ensure that victims are informed when bail granted and alleged perpetrators are released from correctional institutions. Policy enhancement underway


Conduct discussions with Department, Government, and community stakeholders, to determine the most appropriate and efficient ways of delivering services needed for full victim support. Commit sufficient funding for delivery of services needed for full victim support.

Victims' Services (DoJ) Acknowledge that victim support programs are important not only to provide for the safety and well-being of victims and their children, but also to ensure effective implementation of Framework policies. Funding will be provided to establish 3.5 domestic violence victim assistance coordinator positions to work with police agencies to provide victim assistance and support and to identify and refer high risk situations to relevant primary service agencies for case management and monitoring. Winter 2001-02


Reinstate the Family Violence Prevention Initiative

DoJ/ Interdepartmental Committee for the Prevention of Family Violence/Deputy Ministers Leadership Committee on Family Violence Objectives of providing government leadership in efforts to prevent and respond to family violence; promoting effective community-government partnerships; and facilitating interagency collaboration at the local level to be addressed through the establishment of a Deputy Ministers Leadership Committee on Family Violence and through the efforts of the Interdepartmental Committee for the Prevention of Family Violence, working together with local interagency family violence committees throughout the Province. Fall 2001


Develop and implement ongoing training for all justice sectors

see 1.1 above
6.2 Distribute Russell report to the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, Chief Judge of the Family Court, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, and the National Judicial Institute, to identify perceived need for training for the judiciary

Minister of Justice Minister of Justice has distributed report to Chiefs of the various courts.


Require PPS, Courts, and Corrections to formally restate their commitment to the Framework



Will restate commitment to the Framework and update protocols and operating procedures. Winter 01-02

Require PPS, Courts, and Corrections, within six months of their restatement, to articulate means to monitor adherence

as above Agree that monitoring adherence to the Framework is a critical element of a comprehensive response to family violence. Justice components will articulate means to monitor adherence within six months. Spring 2002


Support and strengthen, with senior level commitment, the coordination of family violence activities, within and external to the Department

Deputy Ministers of Justice, Education, Community Services, Health, Director of Public Prosecutions Deputy Ministers Leadership Committee on Family Violence will be established to provide support at the most senior levels of government for interdepartmental and government/community collaboration and a comprehensive response to spousal/partner violence. Fall 2001

Review existing/develop new interagency protocols and confidentiality agreements

DoJ, PPS, Department of Community Services


Protocols requiring the referral of high risk cases to primary service providers (police, victims' services, child welfare, transition houses and men's intervention programs) for case management and monitoring to be instituted. Department of Justice, Public Prosecution Services, police agencies, Department of Community Services and community agencies will review (and revise/reinforce, where necessary) existing interagency protocols, with priority being given to protocols between child protection and police to improve information-sharing, case planning and coordination.

DCS, as part of the Maxwell/George Review, has undertaken protocol development and revisions to existing protocols and will work jointly with DoJ to implement.

Protocol development now underway.

Bring together specialists in child protection and domestic violence, for information exchange, cross-training, and protocol development

Victims' Services (DoJ)

Community Services

In the development of protocols (see 8.2) specialists in child protection and domestic violence will be consulted. Fall 2001
9.0 GAPS


Develop programs for children exposed to family violence - accompanied by complimentary programs for non-violent parents

DCS Agree that programs for children exposed to family violence are important in order to assist in the healing process and to break the cycle of violence.

An approach that supports varied delivery mechanisms is recommended. DCS will explore opportunities for establishment of new programming through the Mental Health Project.


Expand programs for assaultive partners


Community Services

The Department of Community Services currently provides funding to 6 men's intervention programs and the Department of Justice operates a number of assaultive partners programs. The two departments are conferring with the program administrators to determine how intervention programming can best be delivered, with expansion contingent upon the results of the review and availability of funding through the regular budgetary process.


Include in training, reluctance of victims living in Aboriginal communities and from visible minorities

see 1.1 above

Increase reliance on evidence other than victim testimony


Police agencies

This is part of the Framework policy and standard operating procedures.

Expand support services for abused women, including women from Aboriginal communities and visible minorities

as per 5.1 See 5.1. Departments of Justice and Community Services will work to develop enhanced linkages with Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre, MISA, Women's Institute, African United Baptist Association. Expansion of services contingent upon the budgetary process.


Maintain and expand initiatives in public education

Interdepartmental Committee for the Prevention of Family Violence Agreed that such initiatives must be promoted through the Interdepartmental Committee for the Prevention of Family Violence and in consultation with local interagency committees.


Consider domestic violence legislation as a supplement to the Framework

DoJ A review by the Department of Justice of domestic violence legislation enacted in 6 provincial/territorial jurisdictions has revealed that provisions such as the emergency intervention order are a useful addition to the mechanisms for responding to spousal/partner abuse. Legislation will be introduced in the Fall Session of the Legislature. Legislation to be introduced in Fall 2001
11.2 (if legislation adopted)

Conduct training in advance of introduction of legislation

as per 1.1 Experience in other jurisdictions has demonstrated that training is crucial to the effective implementation of domestic violence legislation. Training will be undertaken, incorporated in training plans as per 1.1
Coordinate and monitor through interagency committees. Monitor through ongoing data collection. Evaluate within five years of introduction.

DoJ DoJ will institute a data collection system to monitor emergency intervention orders