Getting behind closed doors: Reflections on legislation to prevent domestic violence

R. Römkens, K. Lünnemann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    The call for preventive interventions to curb domestic violence is becoming stronger. The barring order has been launched as an innovative approach to preventing domestic violence. It allows the police to temporarily bar the perpetrator of domestic violence from entering his or her home, as a way to create safety for the victim and children and to start support programmes for victim and perpetrator. This article provides a brief review of experiences with the barring order in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. The results of the evaluation of the recently proposed Dutch barring order will be discussed, as well as their theoretical implications. The results indicate that the implementation of the new measure is facing reluctance among the police. It is argued that this points to more than empirical start-up problems, but reflects the dominant impact of law. Because the implementation of the barring order is in the hands of the police, a dynamic is created that is often at odds with the preventive nature of the measure, which requires taking a less legalistic and more process-oriented approach to domestic violence. It begs the fundamental question of whether and how prevention of domestic violence can be realized when assigning the gate-keeping task to the police. Related to this is a broader question: how can perpetrators’ and victims’ interests, and victims’ agency, be safeguarded when the state takes control?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-194
    JournalInternational Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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