29/10/2013

PSNI Criticised Over Domestic Abuse Handling

The PSNI has been criticised over how it deals with incidents of domestic abuse.

A new report released by the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has revealed concern over "limited progress on domestic violence and abuse inspection recommendations."

The Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland Brendan McGuigan said work must be undertaken to achieve 12 outstanding inspection recommendations aimed at strengthening how criminal justice agencies handle incidents of domestic violence and abuse.

Mr McGuigan said he was "concerned" by the level of progress made to date.

"In 2010, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) urged the PSNI to adopt a more consistent approach to how officers respond to incidents of domestic violence and abuse," he said.

"We also recommended the police review the role of the domestic abuse officer and consider training a proportion of officers working in this area to higher investigative standards.
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"Three years on, Inspectors found that differences in practice and approach still remained between different PSNI officers and police Districts, despite the further development of the PSNI domestic incident policy aimed at fostering a consistent approach. A wider review of operational policing was also found to have stalled work to assess the role and skill set of domestic abuse officers.

The report found a 10% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases being recorded by police since 2009-10, indicating that more victims of violence in the home are coming forward.

"This positive step however means it is incumbent on the police to work to reverse the fall in sanction detection rates for this type of crime, which has occurred over the same three-year period," Mr McGuigan said.

He added that victims must be adequately supported and placed at the centre of the criminal justice process.

Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: "This report shows once again that domestic violence is not viewed as a serious crime to be tackled and pursued in the way that other crimes are.

"The fact that only one of 13 recommendations made three years ago to improve the PSNI's handling of domestic violence have been achieved, has let victims of domestic abuse down.

"Given that there were 11,160 recorded crimes of domestic abuse in one year and that there are many that go unrecorded, indicates that action is needed by the Criminal Justice agencies to take the necessary measures to protect and support victims."

(IT/MH)

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