What influences attrition in cases of domestic violence?

Funding: The Ministry of Justice and Public Security
Project period: 2017-2019
Researchers: Elisiv Bakketeig (project leader) and Jane Dullum

Elisiv Bakketeig. Foto: NOVA
Elisiv Bakketeig. Foto: NOVA

Our purpose with this study is to get an improved understanding of the attrition processes in cases of domestic violence, with the aim of preventing bias in the system that may represent a threat to process of due law for the involved parties.

During the past ten to fifteen years, there has been an increased focus in the society on the use of the criminal justice system to combat domestic violence. Several policy initiatives have been instigated by the policy makers; for instance special coordinators in the police system, mobile alarms for victims, restraining orders for perpetrators in their own homes and a strengthened position for the victims during the criminal process. One of the most important legal amendments has been the implementation of an article implemented in 2005 in the Norwegian criminal code (§219) that targets domestic violence. Since this amendment, there has been a huge increase in the number of police reported cases regarding domestic violence in Norway. However, most of these cases are dropped and never reach the courtroom.

According to the National Criminal Statistics, most of the cases are dropped due to insufficient evidence. However, more detailed analyses are needed to get a deeper understanding of why the cases are dropped. In this study, we will examine the kinds of evidence that are presented in these cases. This includes a study of the statements of the defendant, the aggrieved person and other witnesses. We will also examine the presence of medical, physical, electronic and other evidence of significance. We will also explore if other agencies are involved and explore the impact of their statements have for the outcome of the cases.

The project will address the following themes

  • Why are so many cases dropped at the prosecutorial level? Which factors seem to be important for cases to make it through the criminal justice system?
  • What kind of evidence are present in the cases, including the statements of the defendant, the aggrieved party and other witnesses and what contributes to changes in statements during the case process?
  • New methods of interrogation have been implemented in the police organization. Can we see traces of these and what significance do they have for bringing forward information to the case?
  • What role do other agencies play in the cases and do their statements seem to influence the outcome of the cases?


We will conduct a systematic registration of information in the first 50 cases of domestic violence reported to the police in Oslo Police District in 2012. This information will be registered in SPSS in order to identify patterns related to the cases and case outcomes. We will also write a short resume of each case in order to identify important turning points.

For questions about the project, contact researcher Elisiv Bakketeig, e-mail: elisiv.bakketeig@oslomet.no