Captured At The Scene: A proposal for the admissibility of visually recorded scene statements from domestic violence complainants in Western Australia

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Procopis, Benjamin
Law; evidence; criminal procedure; Electronic record of interview; mixed methods research; Domestic violence; Western Australia; Criminal Law; Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence; Torts
thesis / dissertation description
In 2015, New South Wales introduced a legislative reform termed DVEC, which made admissible as evidence in chief, visually recorded statements from domestic violence complainants. Unlike other pre-recorded evidence, DVEC is captured at the scene of the incident, shortly after the event. The impetus for implementing DVEC was to overcome the issues identified with prosecuting domestic violence offences owing to the power imbalance in the relationship and the vulnerability of the complainant. In Western Australia, visually recorded statements from children and those with mental impairment are presently admissible for the same underpinning reasons. Police prosecutors and defence counsel participated in a survey to determine their views on introducing DVEC in Western Australia, which revealed some notable differences in opinion. Although it was generally perceived that DVEC would be more probative than oral evidence, and would likely result in an increase in conviction rates and guilty pleas, issues with respect to prejudice and the quality of the recordings were concerns raised. Following a doctrinal analysis of the legislation that governs both DVEC and presently admissible visually recorded statements in Western Australia, the concerns raised can arguably be sufficiently mitigated with careful drafting. Serious consideration should therefore be given to introducing DVEC in Western Australia to provide for a more just adjudication in domestic violence prosecutions.