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Only one recommendation in report on NI domestic violence has been fully achieved


Jacqui Durkin

Jacqui Durkin

Jacqui Durkin

The Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland has criticised the delay in implementing recommendations to improve the handling of domestic violence and abuse cases.

An inspection report into how such cases were handled by the Northern Ireland justice system - entitled 'No Excuse' - was published in June 2019, but only one recommendation has been fully achieved.

A follow-up review was published today and inspectors found that four recommendations were partly achieved, while another two have not been implemented whatsoever.

The report highlighted the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for the delays.

Between March 23, 2020 and February 18 this year, the PSNI received an average of 583 calls a week relating to domestic abuse.

In total, 31,848 domestic abuse incidents were recorded in Northern Ireland in 2020 - one of the highest 12-month periods recorded by the PSNI since 2004/05.

Jacqui Durkin, the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice, expressed her disappointment at the pace of the progress in implementing an advocacy service to support victims, and the establishment of regional domestic violence and abuse courts.

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She said: "While incidents of crime fell overall as people followed the Covid-19 'stay at home' public health message, figures from 2019-20 and during the period of lockdown and restrictions from March until August 2020, showed a rise in domestic violence and abuse with PSNI officers called to respond to a domestic incident every 16 minutes."

Justice Minister Naomi Long said the implementation of the streamlined advocacy service has not been as quick "as we would have liked".

She explained that considerable time and effort was spent with partners to secure a "robust specification" but that could not be agreed - resulting in a procurement exercise.

Meanwhile, work to establish a domestic violence court at Belfast's Laganside Court is currently underway, with a pilot scheme due to commence in the autumn.

However, work on the court has been impacted by Covid.

"My department and I have worked tirelessly since the return of devolution to introduce a range of measures, taking all possible steps to ensure that the highest quality services can be provided to victims of domestic abuse within the resources at our disposal," Mrs Long added.

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