Domestic assault penalties no more lenient than other crimes

SENTENCING for domestic violence is no more lenient than it is for non-domestic assaults, according to a New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research study.

And in the case of indigenous offenders, those who committed assaults were more likely to be sentenced to prison if it involved serious domestic violence.

Bureau director Dr Don Weatherburn could not say for certain why this was the case.

"It may be that cases of indigenous domestic violence are more serious on average than cases of indigenous violence that is not domestic," he said.

"It is also possible that courts are responding to the very high rates of domestic violence in many indigenous communities."

The latest BOCSAR data revealed Coffs-Clarence was in the top 10% of regions in NSW for domestic violence offences.

The Tweed-Byron local area command's figures were less severe, but rates underwent a 32.7% increase in Byron and 30.6% in Tweed between October 2012 and September 2014.


North Coast recorded domestic assaults by local government area from July 2014 to June 2015

Ballina - 113

Bellingen - 26

Byron - 108

Clarence Valley - 205

Coffs Harbour - 486

Kyogle - 30

Lismore - 227

Nambucca - 106

Richmond Valley - 115

Tweed - 372

These findings contradict earlier research suggesting that courts treat offenders convicted of domestic violence offences more leniently than they treat offenders convicted of non-domestic violence offences.

The Bureau study improves on past research by precisely matching offenders convicted of domestic and non-domestic assault in terms of the maximum penalty applicable to each case of assault.

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