Domestic violence perpetrator programme

When a judge thinks it is suitable, an person can be referred to the Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme.

What is the Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme

The Pilot Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme will be offered to defendants convicted of a domestic violence-related offence in Londonderry Magistrates Court if the Judge thinks it will help them understand that domestic violence is wrong and change their behaviour for the better.  The Pilot is expected to begin in 2018.

Who and what is involved

The programme will be delivered by the Probation Board Northern Ireland (PBNI).  PBNI will carefully assess whether a defendant is suitable for taking part in the programme and if so, the Judge will hold off on passing sentence.  The programme will involve defendants attending weekly group sessions for around nine months.

Whilst completing the programme, defendants will be on court bail and will have to return to court regularly to see the Judge for a review.  Before the review, PBNI will provide the Judge and the defendant’s solicitor with a written report on how the defendant is doing on the programme.

It is important that the victim of the defendant’s offence is told that the defendant is taking part in the programme and doesn’t feel scared.  A Women’s Aid worker will therefore be available to keep victims informed of what’s happening and to address any concerns or worries they have.

Outcomes

If the Judge isn’t happy with a defendant’s progress on the programme, he can remove the defendant from the Programme and go ahead with sentencing.  This may be because for example, the defendant isn’t turning up for programme sessions, breaches bail conditions or commits further offence(s). 

If the defendant successfully completes the programme, this will play an important part in helping the Judge decide what sentence to impose.

It is hoped that by giving perpetrators of domestic violence an opportunity to take part in the programme they will  be able to rebuild healthy and safe relationships with that their partners and families and won’t commit crimes like this again.

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