Domestic violence court gets more support

Due to rising demands, victims of domestic violence will have extra courtroom support in Red Deer.

Due to rising demands, victims of domestic violence will have extra courtroom support in Red Deer.

Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter has received provincial dollars to hire a full-time domestic violence court case worker. Once a person is hired in the next two to four weeks, shelter executive director Ian Wheeliker said there will be 2.5 positions (two full time and one part time) devoted to court cases.

The project began three years ago to help victims of domestic violence through the court system.

“When it started, it didn’t anticipate as many charges being laid through Red Deer city RCMP and as many cases going to the docket court,” said Wheeliker on Tuesday. “Right from the get-go, we’ve been understaffed.”

The service has also expanded to working with clients at trial — not just when their accused attacker’s case moves initially through the Canadian justice system.

“We meet 95 per cent of the victims whose partner or ex-partner is going to the DV (domestic violence) court on Thursdays,” said Wheeliker on Tuesday.

The case worker will jot down the history of the relationship and find out whether the woman needs a no-contact order or other such protection through the courts. The report is then filed to the Crown prosecutor.

Wheeliker said trials can be set anywhere from five to eight months down the road, so leading up to that time the woman will be supported by one of these court case workers.

A project co-ordinator and an administrative assistant are a part of the team as well.

Wheeliker said it’s important to have this level of support because it helps the woman stick with the court process and make their partner accountable for any actions they did.

“The less likely you will have (the woman) disappear, recant or not want to participate at all in the court process,” he said.

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