Since 2000, specialized courts focusing on domestic violence cases have been set up in Calgary (2000), Edmonton (2003), Lethbridge and Grande Prairie (2007). Domestic violence courts recognize the unique characteristics of violence between family members. They emphasize the importance of early and effective intervention in abusive situations in order to increase victim safety and allow for a greater chance of offender rehabilitation.
These courts serve to hear cases involving allegations of violence between intimate partners, including allegations of harassment, elder abuse, and crimes against children under 16 years of age.
These courts work with social service agencies and workers to provide support services for victims and require offenders to take responsibility for their actions, not only through regular legal sanctions, but also through monitoring and counselling.
This integrated approach emphasizes treatment at the earliest opportunity and has produced significant results, both in terms of dramatic reductions in recidivism (statistics from Calgary show that 83 per cent of first-time offenders do not reoffend within three years of intervention by the program), and significant increases in the levels of satisfaction with and confidence in the justice system by complainants and other participants.