'Highest ever' domestic violence reports

Published Wednesday, 11 December 2013
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Five women a year in Northern Ireland are murdered at the hands of their husbands or partners, statistics have revealed.

Every 20 minutes the police respond to a case of domestic abuse in the region. But on average, a woman is attacked 35 times before she goes to the police.

So far this year, there have been over 27,000 cases of domestic violence - the highest figure since records began and only about a third of those responsible (34.8%) were caught.

Last year, there were 25,196 cases reported to the police and the detection rate was 41%.

That equates to a 10% increase in number of attacks in the home - yet fewer perpetrators are being brought before the courts.

Women's Aid are calling on politicians to do much, much more to help victims of this hidden crime. They insist domestic violence must be a priority for the police.

A new awareness campaign was launched on Wednesday night by the PSNI and Women's Aid.

The video, called 'Family Portrait - Voice of a Victim', depicts the life of a young woman caught up in an abusive relationship.

The campaign will also include billboard and Facebook advertising to encourage victims to come forward.

Marie Brown, of Women's Aid, told UTV: "Domestic violence is a huge problem in Northern Ireland.

"We have women from all ages, we can have 16-year-olds and we have had women in their 70s, and really up into their 80s."

She added: "There are women from all walks of life. We call it the democratic crime."

Louise, not her real name, suffered years of abuse at the hands of her partner.

She fled, with her children, to safety in the darkness of night.

"I was 10 years with my ex. You know, I suppose to the outside world we were the perfect couple - but behind closed doors, it was a living hell."

She recalled that she was constantly walking on eggshells, afraid of sparking yet another assault.

"I was just violently assaulted on a weekly basis. It was hard and I suppose as the years went on, the violence got worse.

"It just got scarier. In the end, it was a choice really between life or death. I had to choose - if I wanted to live it was 'Get out of that situation, get out.."

She continued: "The only way I could do it... I had to leave in the middle of the night, get the kids out of their beds, pack up the car and leave while he was sleeping."

I did believe that if I'd stayed with him I would have been killed.

Louise

Three years ago, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) made thirteen recommendations but only one has been achieved and six partially achieved.

In October, the CJI criticised the police saying they are failing to tackle the rising levels of domestic violence.

One of its lead inspectors, Rachael Lindsay, said that what was found in a follow-up was that there was not a consistent approach as yet across of whole of Northern Ireland in how the cases are being dealt with.

"It's obviously worrying from the perspective of the victim that there is therefore not an equity of service across the whole of Northern Ireland in all the police districts."

She said that while there is good practice out there, the CJI feel that more could be done to ensure that there is a consistent service for everyone.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly, a member of the Policing Board which holds the PSNI to account, said that she is deeply concerned that so many of the recommendations have yet to be implemented.

She described the previous rota system for PSNI domestic violence officers, which was 9am-5pm on weekdays, with no weekend cover, as "quite unbelievable."

"Given that the majority of domestic violence happens over the course of the weekend.

"That would tell you that they weren't doing enough."

While accepting there are key challenges ahead, the police believe progress has been made.

But, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble admitted that dealing with domestic abuse in Northern Ireland is "a huge challenge."

"And that's why we have over 200 officers dedicated to the world of public protection, and over 50 of those are specially trained domestic abuse officers, who work with partners [groups] on a daily basis to keep victims safe."

He added: "It's a challenge for us to constantly improve what we do and get better at what we do and we have an absolute commitment to doing that."

EXTERNAL LINKS / CONTACTS
Women's Aid telephone: 0808 802 1414
Women's Aid want the politicians and the courts to do much, much more to help women at risk, and their children, who, by witnessing this crime a victim of it.
© UTV News
Comments Comments
5 Comments
John in Belfast wrote (130 days ago):
More unbalanced reporting - women centric. If you takes statistics, 2 to 3 men per year are murdered by their females partners and over 15,000 women attack their husbands. Please please stop to 5 women per year reporting, there was also 2 to 3 men murdered by their female partners. Stop gender based reporting.
Support the real victims in Belfast wrote (132 days ago):
I agree, domestic violence should not be tolerated and every avenue should be available to support victims. I do feel that too many genuine victims are losing out because people are abusing the system, especially in the family courts. Parents applying for orders as an excuse to stop the other parent having access to their children, these orders are given out like confetti and crucial services for genuine people in real need are compromised. I wouldnt like that on my conscience. Services should be for people in need.
Mr Victim in Newtownabbey wrote (133 days ago):
You are forgetting about the men who suffer just as much and in as much silence. When tackling such problems do it right and don't just create a campaign for a section of the victims. It is a massive problem that needs tackled to ensure awareness and protection for ALL.
Dave in Belfast wrote (133 days ago):
When domestic violence hits the news why is it always reported about women being the victims? What about the many many men that suffer domestic violence?
john in belfast wrote (133 days ago):
it must be noticed that abuse on anyone is competely and sickening wrong, but also , that UTV fail ti add any men aid links to the bottom of the page!
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