MoD signs domestic violence charter
The Ministry of Defence in Northern Ireland has signed a major new charter designed to support victims of domestic violence.
Across Northern Ireland one in four women and one in six men are abused and while the experience within the armed services is similar, no specific military figures were released.
Commander of 38 (Irish) Brigade Rob Thomson recognised the different pressures on the service through deployments and military culture.
"Whilst statistics for domestic abuse within families in defence are no different from those outside defence we are alert to the fact that pressures of deployment and training as well as turnover of staff and families can provide additional stresses and strains," he said.
"We not only see our commitment to this charter as an important step in forging our commitment to providing, along with other agencies, all necessary support, but also to underpin ongoing training and understanding across staff."
Defence in Northern Ireland has become the first MoD department across the UK to sign up to the charter.
It unifies the efforts of the MoD Police, the Royal Military Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
More than 1,000 civilian MoD employees have not traditionally enjoyed the same support from civil society organisations specialising in victim support.
The commanding officer said: "We have both regular and reserve military personnel representing a range of cultures and undertaking training and deployments. We recognise these put strains on families, often unsure of where to go to and who to speak to for guidance or support.
"Our structures to support our pledge to the charter are invaluable."
The charter has been developed by the Onus service, which specialises in training professional services dealing with domestic violence.
MoD chief constable Alfred Hitchcock said: "This is a huge leap forward in providing a joined-up approach and in providing support for those who suffer domestic abuse.
"It also shows those responsible of the determination for proper and thorough investigation. We all have a collective desire to get the root causes."