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Domestic violence applications up 10% last year

The figures emerged in the annual report of the Courts Service.

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The figures (PA)

The figures (PA)

The figures (PA)

There was a 10% increase in the number of domestic violence applications with 20,500 cases in court last year, a report shows.

There was also a jump of 30% in the number of interim barring order applications, which sees the perpetrator of domestic violence banned from the family home, or prohibits the person from contacting the victim.

The figures emerged in the annual report of the Courts Service which was presented by Chief Justice Frank Clarke on Wednesday.

The report shows there were 154 sentences handed out to people convicted of rape, of which 36% were jailed for five to 10 years and 63% were handed prison sentences of more than 10 years.

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The report was outlined by Chief Justice Frank Clarke (PA)

The report was outlined by Chief Justice Frank Clarke (PA)

PA

The report was outlined by Chief Justice Frank Clarke (PA)

No-one was sentenced to under two years, while two were jailed for between two and five years.

The figures also show there were 18,500 more serious offences sent to the Circuit, Central and Special criminal courts last year.

Speaking at the event in the Four Courts, Justice Clarke said that while the report related to 2019, “it seems now like a different era”.

He added: “The report for 2020 will undoubtedly be very different. But this 2019 report perhaps provides a benchmark of where our courts stood prior to the pandemic striking.”

He said a number of proposed legal changes will help the courts respond to working within Covid-19 restrictions.

“I know that there are some additional legislative measures approved by the Cabinet which will help us – amongst many things – expand the use of video conferencing and begin the use of filing electronically,” he added.

“These are very welcome. I also welcome the commitment in the Programme for Government both to establish a process to identify the current and medium-term requirement for judicial numbers, and also to advance a new structure for the delivery of family justice.

“In a year where we saw 445,000 criminal and 233,000 civil matters be presented to the courts, I can say with confidence that the courts and the Courts Service have evolved and responded to the changes in volume and in case types so as to meet the needs of court users.”

He also said the “thinking, planning and actions” of the Courts Service has developed five years over five months because of the pandemic.

The court figures for last year show that although there was a slight decrease in personal injuries claims, there was a 75% increase in the value of medical negligence awards.

A spokesman for the Court Service sad this reflects the number of major catastrophic injury cases being dealt with in the year, where provision is made for a lifetime of needed care in large awards.

There was also a 37% decrease in possession orders made and a 28% drop in new possession cases lodged. The spokesman said this reflected a recovering economy and less personal debt.

There was a 30% decrease in new asylum cases lodged, 368 down from 530 the previous year.

In total, the District Court dealt with 226,000 road traffic offences; 33,000 drugs matters; 3,600 sexual offences; 37,500 larceny/robbery/ fraud matters; and 46,000 public order and assaults.

The District court received more than 406,000 new offences last year involving 241,000 people.

A total of 4,073 new divorce applications were received, with 1,806 applications lodged by men and 2,267 by women.

PA