30/09/2009

Domestic Violence Laws Strengthened

New powers for the courts - which aim to step up aid for domestic violence victims - become effective in NI today.

From now, courts have greater powers to impose restraining orders on abusers charged with any offence - even if they were not convicted or were acquitted - but who still represent a threat to victims.

Paul Goggins, the Northern Ireland Office Criminal Justice Minister, is pleased with the new UK legislation, which provides for better aid to the victims: "The Government is fully committed to tackling domestic violence and these additional powers will greatly enhance the improved services and support for those victims who suffer at the hands of their abusers," he said.

Every year, around 750,000 incidents are reported to the police across the UK, but only 200,000 result in arrests.
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The new measures, which extend the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, offer further protection to the victims who are subject to harassment and domestic violence abuse.

Alan Johnson, Home Secretary, said: "It is not right that victims of domestic violence, who have already suffered so much, are forced out of their home. It is both safer and fairer to remove the abuser."

The new regulation includes the introduction of a new maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for breach of a restraining order.

According to Goggins, this is "a further indication that continued abuse and harassment by perpetrators will not be tolerated".

"Domestic violence is a heinous crime and those who carry out such deplorable acts must be held to account for their behavior," he added.

See:Domestic Violence Victims' Aid Proposed

(CL/BMcC)

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