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Domestic violence: 67 people killed in 10 years in Northern Ireland

By Kathryn Torney

Published 08/09/2015

Hard-hitting figures revealed on violence in home (picture posed)
Hard-hitting figures revealed on violence in home (picture posed)

Sixty-seven people were killed by their partner, ex-partner or a family members in the last 10 years, according to harrowing new research report into domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.

These domestic killings of men, women and children make up over a quarter of all homicides over the same period, according to research by Detail Data.

Thirty-six females and 31 males died at the hands of current or former partners or family members.

The death toll includes adults and children, with 13 children nine years old or younger losing their lives.

The catalogue of deadly violence was revealed following a Freedom of Information request to the PSNI.

Omagh was the PSNI area with the most domestic homicides recorded during the 10-year period covered by the research.

Nine people were murdered by partners, ex-partners or family members - this includes the six members of the McElhill family who died in a fire started by Arthur McElhill in November 2007. He also died in the blaze.

Fermanagh followed, with seven separate domestic murders of two children aged 0-9 (boy and girl), a young boy (aged 10-19), three men (two aged 30-39 and one 40-49) and one woman aged 60 or over.

Of the 67 killings, 48 cases were sent to the public prosecution service.

In four cases the offender died before proceedings could be brought, and in one case no prosecution was directed. And in 14 cases - including the six McElhill deaths - the PSNI data contained no information about detection.

The research report also found that in the financial year 2014-15 alone, more than 28,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to the PSNI for investigation, including:

• Six murders - five women and a boy;

• Twenty-eight attempted murders;

• 449 sexual offences, including 176 reports of rape, 7,446 assaults and 119 reports of cruelty to children.

More than one in four of the victims of known domestic abuse crimes in 2014-15 were male.

Yet against this backdrop of thousands of incidents of abuse occurring every year, a high-powered inter-ministerial group established at Stormont to address the issue of domestic violence hasn't met in almost three years.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton said that the new domestic abuse strategy had been endorsed by his department's top management group but added that consideration is now being given to how the strategy's aims may be progressed "in the exceptionally difficult financial environment we all face".

The strategy must also be approved by the Stormont Executive - a body which is itself in crisis and no longer meeting.

Detective Chief Inspector David McBurney, from the PSNI's public protection branch, said: "We understand that it can be a frightening thing to call for help but victims can be assured that we will investigate all reported incidents of domestic abuse in a consistent and robust manner.

"Unfortunately, there are still incidents of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland that go unreported." The police chief added: "Our message is 'domestic abuse is wrong, pick up the phone and make it stop' and that is exactly what we want victims to do."

Read the full report: http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/home-is-where-the-hurt-is

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