Belfast Telegraph

Justice Minister addresses domestic violence conference

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford and Health Minister Edwin Poots have said they are committed to doing everything they can to tackle domestic violence and abuse.

Looking ahead to the combined Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy, developed jointly by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the Ministers said much progress had been made and that the new Strategy will build on the solid foundations that have been laid. 

The Justice Minister was speaking at the ‘Listening, Sharing and Learning’ Conference in Bangor jointly organised by the Belfast and the South Eastern Domestic Violence Partnerships. 

Justice Minister David Ford said: “Domestic violence and abuse is a sickening crime. Tragically, instead of feeling happy, safe and secure in their home, the place where most people feel at their most relaxed, victims are experiencing violence and abuse or will be living in dread and fear of it.

“I welcomed the opportunity to address this conference and its particular emphasis on listening to victims – a key issue for me as Justice Minister.

“Partnership working has led to the development of safety plans for 5,910 high risk victims, plans which have included almost 8,000 children and that unquestionably protected victims, prevented serious harm, and potentially saved their lives. This is an excellent example of how working together in partnership is the essential element in moving forward to collectively address this crime.”

The Minister outlined how much progress has been made including the 24 hour helpline and improvements in access to legal aid for domestic violence victims and although work continues on delivering on the current action plan, we must look to the future.

The new strategy will focus on preventative measures, on better protection, justice and support services for victims and their children, and challenging and responding to the behaviour of perpetrators. 

David Ford continued: “The new Strategy, which we intend to consult on shortly, will build on the solid foundations laid to date and will set out our vision until 2020. I hope many more improvements can be made.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “As we all know, domestic violence and abuse can have a devastating impact on victims and their families, causing significant harm to individual victims, their families and friends.

“The health and social care sector has a key role to play in responding to domestic violence and abuse. I very much welcome today’s Conference which highlights the important role of health and social care staff in listening to victims and responding appropriately. 

“While good strides have been made to improve services for victims of domestic violence, more can always be done. Through the forthcoming publication of the draft Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse Strategy for consultation, my Department will carefully listen to what victims of abuse have to say, and how society needs to change.” 

Notes to editors: 

1. The ‘Listening, Sharing and Learning’ Conference was jointly funded by DHSSPS and the PSNI.

2. Approximately 300 delegates attended the conference representing statutory, voluntary and community sector.

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