Regional variations in charging for IPV

Tina HottonLead Researcher: Tina Hotton

There have been a number of policy reforms over the past several decades, including a national level mandatory charging directive, that have had a tremendous impact on how the criminal justice system responds to intimate partner violence in Canada. Intended to protect women and children exposed to violence in the home, one unintended consequence has been an increase in the number of women accused of intimate partner violence. Canadian research on gender disparities in arrest for intimate partner violence has grown in recent years, but very few studies have examined differences at the national level to better understand variations in charging practices across the country.

Using five years of data from the Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey (2011-2015), lead researcher Tina Hotton and Myrna Dawson examine provincial and territorial variation in police charging for incidents of intimate partner assault by gender of the accused. Preliminary results show that there is variation in the probability of being charged with intimate partner assault by gender of the accused and province/territory in which the incident occurred. In other words, while gender differences in police charging practices persist, they vary considerably across the country. These results will be discussed in the context of the possible impact of local policies at the provincial and police jurisdiction level on the police decision to proceed with formal charges for women and men accused of intimate partner assault.