The West

Domestic violence courts do not reduce attacks.

Specialist domestic violence courts are failing to reduce rates of reoffending, with perpetrators dealt with in the dedicated system much more likely to commit further crimes of violence than offenders sentenced in mainstream courts.

A review by the Department of the Attorney-General has found that offenders who complete programs after being diverted to the Metropolitan Family Violence Courts, which cost millions of dollars a year to run, are 2.4 times more likely to reoffend than matched offenders in the mainstream system.

Attorney-General Michael Mischin, who received a draft report on the review in February, is considering the future of the specialist courts.

But Mr Mischin said before making a final decision, he needed to carefully consider all views and a pending report by the WA Law Reform Commission on its inquiry into family and domestic violence laws.

The comprehensive reviews examined the five metropolitan family violence courts, which were rolled out from 2006 and cost an estimated $9.9 million to operate at the last available calculation in 2009-2010, and the Barndimalgu Court in Geraldton, which costs about $660,000 a year.

"The reviews demonstrated these courts were not as effective as mainstream courts in reducing recidivism and on average, were more expensive to run than mainstream courts for comparable matters," Mr Mischin said.

"The evaluation also showed that matched offenders diverted through the metropolitan family violence courts are significantly more likely to reoffend than those who went through the mainstream courts."

Women's Council for Family and Domestic Violence Services chairwoman Anne Moore said she was surprised and concerned by the review's findings.

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said he had not seen the review or its findings, but changing the community culture towards alcohol use was crucial to addressing domestic violence.

WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin and Chief Magistrate Steven Heath said they were unable to comment yesterday because they had not seen the draft report.

The West Australian

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