The Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVC) is for first appearances and sentencing of defendants who are charged with domestic abuse. Victims of these crimes do not need to attend court. However, if they choose to attend, they will be supported by the court Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) at court. Their safety will be a priority and safe entrance and exit can be facilitated in order that the victim does not have to come face to face with the defendant. The court process and procedures will be explained by the SDVC IDVA.

Some victims will be already working with a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) IDVA, and the SDVC IDVA will liaise with that IDVA in order to ensure that the most current information (with the victim’s consent) is passed on to the relevant agencies at court who need to know this information. Such information can include (but is not limited to) – any request for a restraining order, any claim for compensation, any family court or civil court orders in place, whether a Victim Personal Statement has been made and whether the victim wants this to be used during the process.

Information will be provided by the SDVC IDVA to victims either by telephone (or in person if they attend) on the court process, the agencies involved and their role in the criminal justice process and any decisions/sentences handed down by the Magistrates.

Victims who have not previously engaged with the IDVA service before a court hearing will be offered information on the service and referral on, if they choose to engage with the SDVC IDVA at this point.

The SDVC IDVA will risk assess and safety plan with victims and will refer on to or signpost to other agencies when and where appropriate. Confidentiality and safeguarding procedures are always explained to all victims.