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Last edited: January 22, 2019

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A probation system can play a critical role in a coordinated response to criminal domestic violence cases. In their role of supervising offenders, probation officers can act as the linchpin holding together the various elements of a coordinated response.  Probation officers monitor an offender’s conditions of release as set by the court. In that capacity, the probation officer is charged with knowing whether the offender is complying with the conditions and taking action if the offender does not. If there is a problem, the probation officer is able to contact the police, the court, the victim advocate and/or the perpetrator’s programme, thus bringing together the necessary elements to address the problem and perhaps avoid future violence.

Probation is useful at both the beginning of a case supervising conditions of release and at the end supervising conditions of the sentence. In all phases of probation’s role in a domestic violence case, victim/survivor safety and engagement are central to how an agent supervises offenders.  Probation programmes collect pre-sentence investigation information, make sentencing recommendations to the court and monitor compliance with court orders.  See: Praxis International, Blueprint for Safety, Chapter 7, County Probation and Bail Evaluation; and Duluth Blueprint for Safety, Chapter 7, Pretrial and Probation.

In the UK, as in many countries, probation officers are an important part of the equation in domestic violence cases. The government has issued a national policy on domestic abuse specifically focusing on probation officers in relation to the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act of 2004. See: National Probation Service Interim Domestic Abuse Policy, UN Secretary General’s database on violence against women.

Tools and resources

For additional information and tools, see the Training for Judges section of the Legislation module and the Specialized Court section of the Justice module.