B.C.'s first domestic violence death review panel has issued 19 recommendations that call for more consistency, information-sharing and timeliness in dealing with domestic violence cases to enhance victims' safety and offenders' accountability
In March, the panel reviewed 11 domestic violence incidents in B.C. between 1995 and last year. Of the 14 females and 15 males who died in the cases examined, three were children. The cases involved significant risk factors and revealed gaps in public safety, judicial and support systems that affected the response to those risks.
Among other findings, the panel's report recommends:
* Better collaboration among domestic violence responders.
* Standardizing the investigative approach that police use across B.C.
* Training and resources that ensure a timely, appropriate response regardless of cultural, language or other perceived barriers.
* More co-ordination within the judicial system, since civil and family law processes often stem from domestic violence.
* Better sharing of relevant information among government ministries and collaborating agencies involved in domestic violence prevention and response.
* The need to engage community members aware of domestic violence situations - including family, friends and neighbours - to better support partners in domestic violence prevention and response, such as the police and social agencies.
The chief coroner has requested responses by June 30 from agencies named in the recommendations. The panel's report is at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners/publications/index.htm
Death review panels review facts and circumstances of deaths that share key elements, then advise the chief coroner on matters that may impact public health or safety and help prevent similar deaths. Panels do not make findings of legal responsibility or draw legal conclusions.
The report is in addition to the Province's ongoing work to implement the domestic violence action plan it launched last January. That plan focuses on dealing more effectively with domestic violence through better training, standardized policy, and more co-ordination and prevention.
It also addresses recommendations from the Lee/Park coroner's inquest and the Representative for Children and Youth's report on the death of Christian Lee.
A March 16 update on the progress of the plan is available at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/victim_services/