Unit targets domestic violence

NANAIMO – Mounties and Haven Society to announce framework for domestic violence unit at society's annual general meeting.

Police respond to about 1,000 domestic violence calls per year in Nanaimo.

About 30 per cent of all domestic violence cases result in charges recommended to Crown.

That’s good news to RCMP Supt. Mark Fisher, head of Nanaimo RCMP detachment, and Anne Taylor, Haven Society executive director.

“It’s not good that there’s that many of them, but it’s good that the investigations get to that stage,” Fisher said.

Nanaimo RCMP and Haven Society are working together to bring more cases to trial and protect domestic violence victims from serious injury or death and will announce ongoing developments for a domestic violence unit during Haven Society’s annual general meeting, open to the public, at Oliver Woods Community Centre tonight (Sept. 18), from 6-8 p.m.

The proposed unit would allow police, Haven Society, Victim Services and other agencies to deal more effectively with the highest-risk domestic violence cases and support victims who face difficulties giving statements to police and testifying in court.

The unit, expected to launch in early 2015, will have an RCMP member and Haven staff working directly together.

“It’s an accepted best practice in other communities,” Fisher said. “If you really want to have an impact on supporting victims and do it in the way that, evidence shows, works best and provides the greatest support to them to see themselves through this process.”

The government formed the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence under the Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2012, which has pushed ahead plans to launch the unit, but Taylor said the concept has been in discussion and development locally since about 2000.

“The RCMP is going to be doing offender management and follow-up with restraining orders and conditions through the court and then Community Victim Services will be focused on supporting the victim and ensuring overall safety of the family,” Taylor said.

The unit will also  minimize service gaps and redundancies and allow agencies to follow families until they are past the highest-risk stages.

“And provide better support for families to get back on their feet again – and sometimes that is what happens,” Fisher said. “People make choices and if they seek the appropriate support to get through a tough time in their lives then they’re able to get back on their feet again and do very well.”