Magistrates’ dismissing domestic violence cases ‘too quickly’

Magistrates dismiss domestic violence cases too quickly when complainants fail to appear at hearings, researchers say, claiming that defendants often bully alleged victims into not turning up.

A report commissioned by a former Labour solicitor-general claims that complainants scheduled to appear in specialist domestic violence courts were particularly vulnerable to controlling tactics by coercive former partners.

The report, which studied more than 220 cases in northeast England, found that some defendants were effectively “gaming the system” by entering not guilty pleas in the hope that the complainant would not attend the hearing to give evidence.

At one court centre, of the 21 cases where not guilty pleas were entered, the researchers found that 12 of those defendants immediately switched to guilty pleas when it was…