Performance Audit of Mechanisms for protection and prevention of domestic violence
Period: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

The State Audit Office conducted an audit of the effectiveness of the mechanisms for protection and prevention of domestic violence. Within the framework of the audit, the following were examined: police response to violence and involvement of social workers, access to means of protection and issues related to the level of citizen awareness, which revealed the following shortcomings:

• During the audit, a systematic risk assessment mechanism for domestic violence cases was not introduced at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Consequently, the police issued a restraining order and determined response measures based on individual decisions, which in some cases, failed to provide a coherent and consistent response to the facts of violence;

• The Risk Assessment Mechanism has been introduced at the Ministry of Internal Affairs since September 1, 2018 and the basis for issuing the order has become more consistent, though, the complete filling by the police of the risk assessment protocol remains a challenge;

• During the audited period, the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not systematically monitor compliance with the terms of the order. As a result, the police were only informed of the breach of the terms of the order if the victim reported it. Along with the introduction of the Risk Assessment Tool, the restraining order monitoring rule was introduced, thus increasing the role of the police in the monitoring of the terms of the order;

• Access to the information required to determine the risk assessment and response measures in case of patrol inspectors and district police officers varies at the individual level. Limited access to the required information creates the risk that the fact of violence by the police is treated as a separate case;

• The electronic database of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reflects only 22% of protective orders issued by the court in 2017, which does not allow for consideration of protective orders in the history of violence and proper supervision of compliance with their conditions;

• Moving the abuser from the house is often associated with difficulties in practice (at night, when drunk and in case of ownership of the house). As a result, it is often the case that the victim and several dependents are taken to a shelter that causes discomfort to the victim rather than the abuser. The instruction on separation of persons participating in the incident of violence has not been developed in the Ministry, which fails to provide the basis for the proper consideration of the interests of the victim;

• The current mechanism for responding to economic violence against the elderly is in some cases ineffective and fails to provide their adequate protection;

• To implement a unified state policy on the prevention of violence against women and domestic violence, the Interagency Commission will develop an action plan that needs to be strengthened by analysis. The Commission monitoring and coordination functions are also weak. As a result, the action plan is partially complied with and there are often cases of postponement of important activities to further action period;

• In case of issuance of a protective order, the courses foreseen by the Code of Correction of Perpetrator Behavior are not implemented in practice, and the body responsible for their introduction and implementation is not defined. As a result, behavior correction courses are not provided in practice, which reduces the effectiveness of violence prevention measures;

• Insufficient number of social workers and their limited availability in case of violence determines their inadequate involvement. Social workers do not work on holidays, weekends and off hours; their rights and responsibilities are disproportionate to their number. The workload of social workers is about six times the recommended number of cases per month.

Recommendation to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia:

In responding to domestic violence cases, in order to make an informed decision and enforce the relevant mechanisms for protection against violence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs should ensure:

- Access to information (prior history of violence, etc.) required for police officers responding to domestic violence cases, which, as a result of proper assessment of risk, will help to increase the degree of protection for the victim and determine the appropriate response to the offense;

- Registration of both protective and restraining orders in proper electronic database, which will create a precondition for quick and effective response to offenses.

In order to promote crime prevention and to properly enforce orders, the Ministry of Internal Affairs should prepare relevant instructions for the separation process. It is also advisable that the Ministry consider the possibility of introducing practical means of dealing with the perpetrator.

To the Interagency Commission working on Domestic Violence issues:

In order to raise awareness on domestic violence prevention and violence issues, the Commission is advised to ensure that data on domestic violence cases is collected, analyzed and made available to the public;

In order to facilitate early identification of domestic violence cases, the Commission, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, should develop and implement early detection mechanisms for violence (e.g., within the framework of the mandatory medical examination of children, screening program, etc.);

For effective response to cases of economic violence in relation to the elderly, the Commission, through joint effort with responsible agencies (MIA, Social Services Agency), is advised to ensure specification/update (neglecting the elderly or improving response mechanisms to economic violence) of the existing response procedures, which will make state services available to the victim in this regard. It is also important for the Commission to identify the body responsible for conducting behavior correction courses and facilitate their timely implementation.

To LEPL-Social Service Agency:

In order to ensure social worker availability during non-working hours, the Social Service Agency is advised to introduce duty shift mechanisms of social workers to facilitate uninterrupted response to emergency cases of violence on holidays, weekends and non-working hours.