Peace Bonds and Violence Against Women: A Three-Site Study of the Effect of Bill C-42 on Process, Application and Enforcement

1. Highlights

According to ACCS data, the Canadian national peace bond issuance rate per 100,000 population climbed consistently each sample year since 1994/95.  The largest recorded increases in the national peace bond issuance rate took place from sample years 1994/95 to 1995/96 (+22.9%), immediately following the passage of Bill C-42.

From 1994/95 to 1999/00, the peace bond issuance rate per 100,000 population rose from 29.6 to 45.9, an increase of 55 per cent.

From 1994/95, ACCS data suggest that the annual national court disposition breach rate has remained relatively stable at around five per cent; from a repeated high of 5.1 per cent in 1994/95, 1998/99, and 1999/00, to a low of 4.5 per cent in 1995/96.

In tracking peace bond respondents in the Halifax police information system and onto the RCMP’s CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) criminal record history database, we found that 8.2 per cent of respondents committed an offence while under conditions of a peace bond, and another 8.2 per cent thereafter. Of those persons issued peace bonds in cases of domestic violence in Winnipeg between 1993-1997, ten per cent (n=34) committed an offence while under conditions of the section 810 recognizance. Another 27.9 per cent (n=95) committed an offence after the peace bond had lapsed.

The most common relationship status between respondent and applicant in domestic violence related peace bond issuances was common-law (30.2%), followed by separated (21.2%), boyfriend/girlfriend (21.0%) and married (13.0%).

Over 70 per cent of domestic-violence related issuances were against a male respondent, on behalf of a lone female applicant. In all three jurisdictions, obtaining a peace bond by direct application to a Justice of the Peace (J.P.) was reportedly a time-consuming problem wrought with delays, making section 810 recognizances a poor choice for battered women.