Journal Article

The Quest for Truth: Substantiating Allegations of Physical Abuse in Criminal Prosecutions and Care Proceedings

Cathy Cobley

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 20, issue 3, pages 317-343
Published in print December 2006 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/ebl015
The Quest for Truth: Substantiating Allegations of Physical Abuse in Criminal Prosecutions and Care Proceedings

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The protection of children from violence is increasingly being placed on national and international societal and political agendas throughout the world. Although responses vary, measures to punish abusers in the criminal courts and measures to protect child victims in the family courts are common to many jurisdictions. When an allegation of abuse is contested, the conflict must be resolved before these punitive or protective measures can be implemented. However, proving that a child has been abused is a process fraught with difficulties. This article explores the concept of proof and illustrates the challenges faced in substantiating allegations of physical abuse in criminal prosecutions and care proceedings in England and Wales. In so doing it considers the relationship between the two kinds of proceedings in the light of their respective punitive and protective objectives. It concludes that, although recent developments may occasionally have blurred the distinction between the two systems, the fundamentally different objectives of each remain and that this distinction justifies apparently conflicting outcomes in the quest for truth.

Journal Article.  13585 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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