P.E.I. lacking needed services for domestic violence battle, judge says

By Rosie Townshend-Carter
Oct. 3, 2014

P.E.I. has a program to help people suffering from addictions, but it lacks the resources to help combat the serious issue of domestic violence, says a provincial court judge.
And that’s a big issue, says Nancy Orr.
“Drunk driving and domestic violence make up for the majority of our docket.”
The province does have a police force dedicated to an aggressive policy towards the issue of domestic violence, said Richard Collins, deputy police chief in Charlottetown.
“We have a zero tolerance policy. We don’t just issue warnings, we generate a file and make it a criminal matter.”
However, Orr said, when someone accused of domestic violence comes to the courts, there’s little to no resources to help them. The only available program is called Turning Point and it only runs twice a year.
“Often these people have prior DUIs and can’t get a ride to the program.”
Other issues, such as alcohol dependency and prescription drug use, can cause domestic violence situations to happen, she said.
“We often criminalize decent human beings.”
The only way to reduce the amount of DUIs and domestic violence cases in the courtroom is to get more programs and mental health services, Orr said.
“An awful lot do want to get help.”
It is still a work in progress, said Collins.
“As a province, we are really doing a good job, but we are still a work in progress.”
Compared to earlier generations, Islanders are changing their attitudes for the better when it comes to reporting incidents, he said.
“We are more efficient and effective than historically.”