The promise of focused deterrence approaches to domestic violence in Australia

Ms Hayley Boxall1, Mr Anthony Morgan2

1Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, Australia, 2Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Focused deterrence approaches to domestic violence have been developed in the US to increase offender accountability, reduce reoffending and appropriately target responses to high-risk victims. While innovative, the model has strong theoretical and empirical foundations. It is based on a set of fundamental principles and detailed analysis of domestic violence patterns and responses.

This paper uses recent Australian research to explore the feasibility of adapting this model to an Australian context. Arguments in favour of the model, and possible barriers to implementation, are described.

Based on a now extensive body of local research on patterns of domestic violence offending and reoffending, and in light of recent developments in responses to domestic violence, this paper concludes with a recommendation to trial focused deterrence and pulling levers to reduce domestic violence reoffending in an Australia pilot site.


Hayley Boxall is a Principal Research Analyst with the AIC, working in the Family and Domestic Violence Research Program. Since joining the Institute almost 10 years ago, she has developed considerable knowledge and expertise in the areas of family and domestic violence and child abuse/neglect. She has been involved in the evaluation of a range of government-funded programs, such as the Adolescent Family Violence Program, and been a primary investigator on a number of projects aimed at improving understanding of domestic and family violence offenders and victim/survivors, and improving criminal justice responses to domestic and family violence. This includes projects describing the: characteristics of domestic and family violence offenders and incidents; domestic and family violence criminal career trajectories; patterns of offending and reoffending; and research looking at the usefulness of different types of police data for answering questions about family and domestic violence offending.

Hayley is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Her thesis focuses on the experiences of victim/survivors in supporting domestic violence resistance processes.

Australia & New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing

The Australia & New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing (ANZSEBP) was formed in April 2013 in Brisbane, Australia. The ANZSEBP is a police practitioner-led Society. The mission of the ANZSEBP is to develop, disseminate and advocate for police to use scientific research (“the evidence”) to guide best practice in all aspects of policing. The ANZSEBP Chairperson serves on the Executive Board of the British Society of Evidence Based Policing, ensuring that the ANZSEBP works cooperatively with an international group of police to advance evidence based policing.

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