Note: This resource has not been updated for a number of years, and due to changes in legislation, what is represented here may no longer reflect current best practice.

Case study: criminal justice & domestic violence

Authors: Mel Cadman & Kathryn Cameron
video transcript

Shavita's story


Ian and Shavita have been married five years, are in their early thirties and live with their two young children in an owner occupied home in an affluent suburb (of Glasgow). Ian works as a chartered accountant in the small firm founded by his father-in-law when he emigrated from Uganda in the late 1960s. Shavita worked as a primary teacher until the birth of their first child but both decided she should stop work until the children were older as they were relatively 'comfortable' financially.

Tensions and conflicts, usually about money, child-rearing and Ian's growing alcohol problem, have grown over the past two years. Raging arguments have much more recently developed into physical confrontations. The most recent incident developed into their worst ever fight, with Ian losing control and punching Shavita repeatedly on her face; even the children's screaming failed to stop him. Eventually he left the house, alone, and Shavita phoned her mother who came around quickly. Once she felt slightly calmer she called the police and set in motion a whole process of investigation, forensic examination and soon after Ian is charged with assault. The local social work services department makes contact by letter in accordance with its policy to follow up referrals of domestic violence disputes made by the police. It is a few days later and Shavita reflects on that night, her past and their future.

Reflective questions

In relation to the decision by the police to charge Ian, identify:

  • The process involved from arrest to a pleading diet
  • Whether Ian is likely to be allowed to remain in the community or be detained in custody
  • What rights he would have in relation to interrogation and to support and representation
  • The function and roles of officials within the court system

In relation to Shavita, - but taking into account throughout Ian's rights - explore how she might exercise her wish to:

  • Prevent Ian making contact with her or the children
  • Secure her and the children's accommodation in the immediate term
  • Seek a formal separation from Ian
  • Seek the most advantageous financial settlement for her and the children
  • What role would the focus of the social work services department be in relation to members of the family at this stage?