Meet Vladimir Vedra, a police major in the Brno headquarters of the Police of the Czech Republic, and a featured blogger for our participation in the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
As a police officer, I often come in contact with colleagues who are frustrated and feel helpless when tackling domestic violence cases. They see repeated violence in the same family-mostly committed against women-without knowing how to effectively respond to end domestic violence, once and for all.
As a voluntary legal counselor to the NGO White Circle of Safety, I have the opportunity to be involved in domestic violence victim counseling. Frequently, these women are also frustrated by the less than stellar response to their cases. Though it has improved in the last decade, law enforcement handling of these cases is still far from perfect.
In order to improve law enforcement response, it is necessary to train and sensitize police officers, prosecutors, and judges, and create specialized domestic violence units.
After the 2nd Global Summit of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, a group of experts was established in the Czech Republic to begin creating a nationwide model of specialized law-enforcement authorities. Although this process takes time, the initial outcome is promising. The torch of this project is held by Intervention Centers Association, a nationwide association supporting NGOs involved in combating GBV and domestic violence.
The greatest obstacles we face are a shortage of personnel and tight budgets. The area of greatest promise is that of the public prosecutors – they appear to be ready to move forward and need only internal guidance to implement this specialization. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we believe that with the support of experts we will succeed in persuading the top management to take the necessary steps.
A report is being drafted to map out proposed methods and organizational changes which might lead to successful creation of specialized units. Examples from abroad will be incorporated to show how different approaches might be beneficial. Our experience shows that, though we often hear how much has been done to improve domestic violence victims’ situations and well-being, the fight is not over yet. On the contrary, the first steps, such as creating specific laws and services for victims, are only the beginning of a long journey, and with much work still ahead.
You can help continue the fight. We would very much appreciate any examples of best practices from around the world regarding successful models of specializing law enforcement agencies. Please share your suggestions and best practices with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. With your help, we can convince key players of the overwhelmingly positive results that will be achieved when law enforcement expertise on domestic violence is cultivated.