An Examination of Provincial/Territorial Variation in the Probability of Being Charged with Intimate Partner Assault By Gender of the Accused

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Tina HOTTON, University of Guelph, Canada
There have been a number of policy reforms over the past several decades, including a national level mandatory charging directive, that have had a tremendous impact on how the criminal justice system responds to intimate partner violence (IPV) in Canada. Intended to protect women and children exposed to violence in the home, one unintended consequence has been an increase in the number of women accused of IPV. This finding has been observed in other nations, including the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom (Canadian Observatory on the Justice System Response to IPV, 2009). While research on gender disparities in arrest for IPV has grown in recent years, very few studies have examined differences at the national level to better understand variations in charging practices across Canada. Using five years of data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (2011-2015), this study examines provincial and territorial variation in police charging for incidents of intimate partner assault by gender of the accused. Preliminary results show that there is variation in the probability of being charged with intimate partner assault by gender of the accused and province/territory in which the incident occurred. In other words, while gender differences in police charging practices persist, they vary considerably across the country. These results will be discussed in the context of the possible impact of local policies at the provincial and police jurisdiction level on the police decision to proceed with formal charges for women and men accused of intimate partner assault.