Abuse 'reported every 21 minutes'
Domestic abuse was reported every 21 minutes in Northern Ireland last year, a report has revealed.
Police dealt with more than 24,000 incidents, according to a report from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland. In just over half of cases referred to prosecutors a decision was taken not to proceed.
Chief Inspector Dr Michael Maguire said there had been some improvement in the reaction of criminal justice agencies to domestic abuse reports.
"Domestic violence and abuse is a significant problem that can occur regardless of gender, social group, class, religion, age, race, disability or sexual orientation," he said.
A total of 24,482 domestic violence and abuse cases were responded to by police in 2009/10, equal to an incident being reported every 21 minutes. There has been a growing recognition of the need to understand the issues around domestic violence and abuse and to take action when incidents occur, Mr Maguire added.
His report made 13 recommendations.
It called for improved consistency of service across police districts in how officers responded when called to incidents. It also said supervisors should review the approach, especially when a decision not to arrest has been taken, to ensure that in cases of serious crime an effective and consistent investigation takes place.
And it advised the PSNI should review the role and skills of domestic abuse officers and train some to a higher investigative level. Prosecutors have undertaken training on domestic violence and dealt with large numbers of cases. In 53% of files a "no prosecution" decision was taken.
Mr Maguire added the Public Prosecution Service should continue to review domestic violence and abuse cases where a "no prosecution" decision has been made. This should be carried out to establish whether actions could be taken to improve the likelihood of the test for prosecution being met.
The chief inspector said: "While the nature of incidents of domestic violence and abuse means it is a complex problem for which there are no quick fix answers, more could be done to support and care for victims of domestic violence and abuse."