Policing the penal provisions on repeated and severe domestic violence
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Penal provisions designed to cover repeated and severe abuse in close relationships have been in effect in Norway for the past decade (section 219 of the former Criminal Code, sections 282/283 of the revised Criminal Code). This article evaluates these legal provisions, and in particular, explores the struggle of the police with severe domestic violence. Specially trained police officers and others working in law enforcement, such as prosecutors and judges, have participated as informants. It is insufficient merely to read the legal text to understand what it criminalizes—it is necessary to examine the legal sources. According to the Supreme Court of Norway, a regime of control and violence in a close relationship must be evident. To identify such a regime, the police cannot pay exclusive attention to the specific incidents of physical violence but must focus on what occurs between these events. The totality and complexity of domestic abuse, including psychological violence, is expected to play a central role in police investigation. However, this kind of policing challenges the police role. Police interviews in these cases require particular patience, understanding, empathy and calm. The article will prove that a large proportion of the investigation ends in dismissed cases, but the author will argue that law enforcement is only one side of policing. The police may achieve just as much by means of victim support and prevention measures.