The conviction rate in domestic violence cases where pre-recorded evidence is used has increased by 3.4 percentage points, according to new research by the University of Sydney.
Their findings have been published by the Australian Economic Review.
The Criminal Procedure Amendment (Domestic Violence Complainants) Act I, which went into effect in 2015, permits domestic violence victims to present their evidence via a prerecorded video statement with police rather than in court. The purpose of the law is to encourage victims to testify, which could lead to a rise in prosecution and conviction rates.
The new research demonstrates that the 3.4 percentage point increase in the conviction rate for matters with pre-recorded evidence is the result of three factors: first, there is a higher likelihood of conviction among cases that proceed to a defended hearing (5.6 percentage point increase); there are more guilty pleas (2.4 percentage point increase); and the prosecution is 2.4 percentage points less likely to withdraw their case.
Mr. Yeong derived the results alongside Suzanne Poynton, Director, Research and Evaluation at the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, using three datasets: the 2011 ABS census, the Reoffending Database of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, and the Computerized Operational Policing System of the NSW Police Force. Between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2018, the researchers analyzed cases involving at least one domestic assault charge in which the victim provided prerecorded testimony.
It is estimated that one in four Australian women have experienced domestic violence at least once since the age of 15 (ABS, 2017). The estimated national cost of domestic violence for fiscal year 2015–16 was $22 billion (KPMG, 2016). In comparison, the Australian government’s budget deficit for the same time period was $39.6 billion (Commonwealth Treasury, 2016).