Belfast Telegraph

Domestic violence: PSNI must do more on issue, says watchdog

BY LESLEY-ANNE McKEOWN

Police in Northern Ireland are failing to tackle rising levels of domestic violence, a report has found.

Even though there was a 10% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases recorded over the past three years, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) claimed detection rates had dropped, meaning fewer perpetrators were being brought before the courts.

CJI chief inspector Brendan McGuigan said: "More needs to be done to get back on track."

There were just over 27,000 incidents of domestic abuse in the past year – the equivalent to around three attacks every hour – and about a third (35%) of those responsible were dealt with by police, the report states. The previous year there were 25,196 recorded domestic abuse cases, when the detection rate stood at 41%.

Victims include heterosexual men and women as well as those in same-sex relationships.

The CJI said internal issues around the use of specially-trained domestic abuse officers and the role of the public protection units identified during a previous inspection three years ago had not yet been resolved, and there was still an inconsistent approach to investigation and support of victims.

Mr McGuigan said: "Inspectors understand that where there has been co-location of Women's Aid workers with public protection units this has had a positive impact and delivered more beneficial outcomes for high-risk victims.

"It is only through perpetrators being convicted at court that victims can be fully protected," said Mr McGuigan.

The chief inspector also expressed disappointment that most of the 13 recommendations made by his office in 2010 had not been progressed by the PSNI.

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