A new report shows improvements in the justice system’s response to family violence in Nova Scotia. The 2005 Family Violence Tracking Project, released today, Dec. 7, indicates police and the courts are playing a key role in addressing family violence. The Department of Justice produced the report with the co-operation and support of Nova Scotia’s law enforcement community. “While we still have work to do, this report shows that we are making gains in providing a strong justice system response to family violence in our province,” said Justice Minister Murray Scott. “Family violence is unacceptable, and we are working with the police and courts to ensure we are responding appropriately and effectively.” Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada to do this type of analysis of the criminal justice system’s response to family violence. The report is based on a sample of family violence cases reported to police. “We are pleased to participate in this innovative project,” said Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank A. Beazley. “It provides valuable information to support our ongoing efforts to address family violence in Nova Scotia.” The 2005 report compares data from two earlier reports to evaluate the justice system’s response, and identify what is working well, and what needs to be addressed. Improvements from the 1998 to 2005 reports include: “This report reflects what we are seeing on the front lines, and we are pleased the Department of Justice is tracking these statistics,” said Rhonda Fraser, executive director of Chrysalis House and vice-chair of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia. “We will be interested to see what impact initiatives like the Domestic Violence Intervention Act have on future reports.” The report identifies longer court processing times and an increase in non-compliance with probation orders as areas that need improvement. Processing times are an issue across Canada, and department staff and justice system partners are working to shortening them. Other areas needing improvement will also be addressed. “Having this information is a vital part of developing solutions,” said Mr. Scott. “I commend our partners in law enforcement for their participation in this important project.” The Family Violence Tracking project is one of several provincial programs addressing family violence, including the introduction of the Domestic Violence Intervention Act, and providing training for police, corrections, sheriff services, courts, victim services, military police, legal aid, transition house representatives, and Department of Community Services staff. The province also provides more than $5 million annually for transition houses and men’s treatment programs. A protocol has been introduced to guide information sharing on high risk domestic violence cases among professionals, and a pocket guide has been developed to assist police responding to incidents of family violence. The report can be view online at www.gov.ns.ca/just/ . police response times improved by 33 per cent, to six minutes from nine minutes arrest rates increased by 26 per cent police charge rates increased by 28 per cent median sentencing increased to 61 days from 41 days police referral rates to victim services programs increased to 96 per cent in 2003 from 85 per cent in 2000.