Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Dramatic rise in violence against Northern Ireland men in the home

A poster for a PSNI anti-domestic violence campaign

The number of new male victims of domestic violence was almost double that of women in the past year, figures show.

The total of domestic abuse crimes committed in Northern Ireland has risen by more than 800 in the past year.

Of these, there were an extra 433 male victims and an extra 256 female.

There was also an added 81 victims aged under 18.

Data compiled by the PSNI shows that, during 2011/12, there were 10,387 domestic abuse crimes recorded, an increase on the 9,546 crimes recorded in 2010/2011.

Most attacks were still perpetrated against women — although a significant number were now aimed at men, the Policing Board said.

The majority of assaults were carried out by partners or ex-partners, but there was a notable number involving parents and children.

An increase in offences was detected in most parts of Northern Ireland.

Board member Ryan Feeney said: “Domestic abuse is a damaging crime and this information demonstrates that it is widespread in our community.”

The number of cases increased in Fermanagh and parts of Tyrone by a quarter, and in east and south Belfast by a fifth.

Mr Feeney added: “The board will continue to work with the PSNI to ensure it is tackled most effectively.

“The committee particularly welcomes recent comments from the judiciary that tougher sentences will be given for attacks, even where the victims withdraw complaints.”

According to a Criminal Justice Inspectorate report from the end of 2010, one domestic violence incident happens every 21 minutes.

The report said experience has shown that incidents of domestic violence and abuse can escalate to often very tragic conclusions if not dealt with appropriately.

It noted improvements have been made in how the criminal justice system deals with cases of domestic violence and abuse, including the specialisation of investigators and prosecutors.

According to a Policing Board thematic review from last year, during 2009/10 there was a domestic abuse motivation behind approximately one in four recorded murders, manslaughters and attempted murders, as well as many rapes and assaults.

Support workers from Women's Aid have worked in police stations to help bridge any perceived gap between the police and the community.

There was concern that abuse is taking place increasingly through social media.

The report noted that domestic abuse is a societal issue which requires input from across the criminal justice system, Government departments, education providers and community workers.

The agencies have been meeting to discuss high-risk victims in local areas and share information about the dangers faced and the resources available.