13 Aug 2008

Family violence courts fail to cut reoffending - study

2:56 pm on 13 August 2008

Family violence courts in Waitakere and Manukau have not reduced reoffending rates, a report has found.

The six family violence courts, set up in 2001, emphasise rehabilitation rather than jail for offenders.

An independent evaluation of the Waitakere and Manukau courts, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, found reconviction rates had either not changed or increased slightly, over a one-year period.

Lawyers who work in the courts say they are surprised by the findings.

They say increased reporting of domestic violence, coupled with changes to the law, are responsible for a rise in the number of cases before the court.

The report also highlighted funding problems, lack of monitoring of offenders and the failure of participants to complete programmes.

Chief District Court Judge Russell Johnson says he accepts the report, but some of the matters it raises have already been dealt with, in particular the question of funding.

Courts Minister Rick Barker says it is wrong to try to draw a connection between reoffending and the family violence court when one does not exist

Mr Barker says the reasons for reoffending also lie in the community and the family, and people are also reporting reoffending more readily.