Domestic Abuse/ Violence – 1st Appearances in Custody

  • 06/02/2017


Greater Manchester has a high instance of domestic violence/abuse prosecutions. To better manage these cases the Greater Manchester Judicial Business Group is from Monday 6th March 2017 introducing new arrangements for the listing of first hearings of those charged with domestic violence/abuse offences that are refused police bail.  These cases will be brought to a single courthouse, this being the Magistrates’ Court in Manchester.

This court would deal with first appearances, taking pleas, undertaking case management, making remand decisions and sentencing those who plead guilty. Those defendants pleading not guilty would be tried at the appropriate “local” courthouse, subject to that courthouse meeting the needs of victims and other witnesses.


“First appearance cases” for the purpose of this listing policy included are those charged with a domestic abuse/violence related offence who are to make their first appearance at the court, having been refused bail by the police. It does not include those arrested on warrant for failing to appear in relation to a DV offence or those arrested for a breach of their bail conditions. These cases would appear at the court which the arrest warrant directs.

The “local courthouse” is the court house for the locality in which the offence is alleged to have occurred and at which the defendant would normally appear if bailed by the police.

The Domestic Violence Court

The cases falling within the scope of this listing policy will be heard at Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court sitting in the Manchester Magistrates Courthouse. This location has been chosen as is best accessible to the majority of the population within Greater Manchester. It is the central hub of road, rail, tram and bus networks and therefore easiest to travel to or from for all parties.

The review of the court schedule at the Manchester court house and the corresponding data capture, presented an ideal opportunity to centralise these cases within that building. A bespoke Domestic Abuse/Violence case service will be provided.  Drawing on lessons learnt from the Trial Blitz in June 2015 there will be 3 court rooms next to each other on the second floor of the building dealing with a combination of Domestic Abuse/Violence cases. Across the 3 court rooms cases falling within Scope and the cases that would be classed as ‘local’ to the Manchester courthouse will be dealt with. It is envisaged by brigading the courts in this way that there will be increased flexibility to move cases between the rooms and reduce delay.

This listing policy will ensure that those refused bail by the police will have their first hearing before a District Judge or Magistrates’ who have undertaken the Judicial College training to deal with Domestic Abuse/Violence cases.

The court will be prosecuted by a specialist prosecutor who would be able to make decisions and take action at the first hearing. As part of case management, applications for bad character, hearsay and special measures are able to be dealt with at 1st appearance. A basis of plea would also be considered all with a view to reducing delay and the number of hearings that parties are required to attend.

Due to greater flexibility within the listing pattern and the resources available at the Manchester courthouse it is more likely cases can be progressed with on the day rather than be adjourned, reducing delay for all parties.

There is a commitment from the National Probation Service to increase the number of pre sentence reports delivered on the day of plea across the region. At the Manchester court house there is also an increase in the number of their staff who are trained to write on the day Domestic Abuse/ Violence reports. This again will help to reduce delay for all parties


The centralisation of the cases within scope will commence on Monday the 6th March 2017.

In addition lunch time briefing sessions will be held at each court site across Greater Manchester where there will be an opportunity to answer questions arising from the communication document.

These sessions will be held at:

8th February- Wigan & Leigh court house, 13.15pm court room 6.

10th February- Stockport court house, 13,15pm Meeting room 2.

17th February- Manchester court house, 13.15pm court room 10.

20th February- Bolton court house, 13.15pm court room 6.

27th February- Tameside court house, 13.15pm Training room.

3rd February- at the Stakeholder event.

Advocates are welcome to bring their lunch with them.