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Domestic abuse court to open in Livingston

A dedicated domestic abuse court is to open in Livingston as part of a new multi-agency pilot to improve how the criminal justice system handles domestic abuse crimes.

The court brings together a number of agencies who currently work with those affected by domestic abuse: the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Lothian and Borders Police, Scottish Court Service, Victim Support Scotland’s Witness Service and West Lothian Council’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team.

The pilot seeks to commence trials within eight to ten weeks of an accused’s first appearance in court. All the cases will be dealt with in court by designated prosecutors and sheriffs to build expertise, consistency and quality of response.

The pilot court expects to deal with approximately 20-30 cases of domestic abuse a month, with a dedicated trial court every second Thursday in Livingston Sheriff Court. The trials court will deal with all disputed allegations of domestic abuse reported to the Procurator Fiscal in Livingston since 1st January 2012. The pilot will initially run for 12 months.

Two dedicated Procurator Fiscal Deputes will initially conduct the Thursday court and oversee the marking and decision making, with further oversight from the District PF. The Victim Information & Advice service will also play a vital role.

Trials should be fixed approximately eight weeks after first calling where the accused is on bail. The current average is 14-16 weeks between first calling and trial.