Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to domestic violence, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
1Implementing a comprehensive and collabo rative response strategy Addresses both victimization and offending; identifies gaps in strategies, resources, and response protocols…the collaborative does an appraisal ofthe community's response to domestic violence to identify what is and isn't working and gapsGroup should be educated about what works in reducing domestic violence victimization and revictimization and the limitations of some approaches; group commits to ongoing evaluation of efforts; collaboration with a university researcher may be useful; will probably require a champion who pursues a collaborative response strategy
2Educating collaborative partners Increases likelihood of adoption of proven effective responses…collaborative partners commit to relying on facts and research, rather than anecdotesRequires high level of coordination
3Tailoring the police response on the basis of offender and victim risk Applies the most appropriate type and level of response to the particular victim and offender…offender is told about the measures police put in place; graded responses are applied quickly because the highest risk period for further assault is within the first four weeks of the last assaultAccurate victimization and offending information is needed to select the most appropriate level of response
Specific Responses to Domestic Violence
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
4Educating potential victims and offenders Encourages victim reporting, de-motivates potential offenders, or raises the consciousness of potential witnesses to abuseefforts are highly targeted and focused on a geographic area or certain high-risk groupsIf evaluation mechanisms are not put in place, the campaign, which can be costly, will remain of unknown value
5Encouraging victims and witnesses to call the police Deters potential and actual offendersat-risk populations and their peers and neighbors believe that calling the police will be effectiveHard core batterers are not likely to be deterred just by calling, so more must be done
6Encouraging other professionals to screen for domestic violence victimization and make appropriate referrals Increases likelihood of effective intervention in abusive relationshipsdoctors have adequate trainingRequires active participation of community's medical profession
7Providing victims with emergency protection and services after an assault Provides safe place for victims; improves information sharing between police and victim service providers; informs police about high-risk victims and offenders; links victims with other essential servicesthere is a belief that each service provider, including the police, has a common interest in ensuring victim safety and de-motivating the offenderMay require extensive discussions by parties to define roles, responsibilities, and limits of partnership; collaboration requires agreement about confidentiality issues
8Assessing the threat of repeat victimization Determines need for immediate protection of victim and apprehension of offenderofficers/collaborators trained to assess revictimization threatsRequires training and timely and accurate intelligence information
9Arresting offenders Incapacitates offender during high-risk periods and deters potential and actual offendersa graded response to battering is adopted depending on the likelihood of rebattering; used with situational crime prevention opportunity blocking frameworkUnder some conditions arrest may increase risk of revictimization; some offenders undeterred by arrest
10Issuing and enforcing restraining orders Removes excuses for offender and victim to come into contact with one anotherpolice recognize that defiance of a restraining order may be an indicator of future risk to the victimPolice see violation of a restraining order as the need for a victim safety plan, and the adoption of a graded response to both victim and offender depending on the circumstances
11Aggressively pursuing criminal prosecution of severe domestic violence cases and publicizing convictions Incapacitates offender and deters potential and actual offenderspolice and prosecutors can agree beforehand what constitutes chronic and severe offenders; used as part of pulling levers/focused deterrence approach or other graded responses to batterersRequires proper evidence collection; should also include coordination and prosecutor participation around victim safety
12Establishing special domestic violence courts Enhances judges' knowledge of particular victims and offenders and ability to monitor compliance with court orderscourts participate in an evaluation to improve knowledge about recidivism reduction; courts can discern between batterers who can be deterred and those who can'tMay require extra court resources
13Providing treatment for batterers Reduces batterers' propensity for violencetreatment is court-ordered; treatment has proven effectiveness and is tailored to a specific type of battererRequires up-todate knowledge of effectiveness of different treatment approaches
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
14Arresting both parties in a domestic violence incident Incapacitates both parties during high-risk period Consumes scarce jail and court resources and not generally recommended for reasons discussed earlier in this guide