A legal framework aimed at repairing troubled relationships instead of turning to prosecutions should be introduced to deal with escalating family violence, a criminologist said. There was little room for healing and reconciliation in the legal system, said Dennis Wong Sing-wing, an associate professor in the department of applied social studies at City University. 'In cases of family violence, anger, hostility and resentment in relationships are always the main reasons,' Dr Wong said. 'Unfortunately, the victims of violence are more likely to resort to violence in conflict resolution later in their lives. To break this vicious cycle, reconciliation is needed.' A new legal practice, called restorative justice, was suggested by Dr Wong. It involves the voluntary participation of the victim, offender and community members in discussions. It has been adapted in Canada, Australia and the US. Restorative justice requires wrongdoers to recognise the harm they have caused, to accept their responsibility and to be involved in making reparation to victims, themselves and the community. 'Restorative justice gives victims a chance to express their feelings and it is vital to emotional healing, especially in the case of family violence,' Dr Wong said. Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, director of Against Child Abuse, said such a practice could enhance the capacity of the community and police to recognise potential family violence. 'It is not uncommon for police officers to dismiss family violence victims when they can't see any perceivable evidence of violence on the scene,' Ms Lui said. 'They don't recognise that emotional strains and bitterness in families may finally lead to violence. 'Instead of turning them away, police should refer such cases to social workers.' She also called for a revision of the laws regarding domestic violence. The laws did not cover violence in different home environments, such as split families and step-families.