11/02/2009

Domestic Violence Targeted

There has been a call for more to be done to tackle the issue of domestic violence.

Members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board met this week with senior police officers and officials from the Department of Health & Social Services to discuss ongoing programmes of work to deal with both domestic violence and abuse.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland (pictured here) said: "Domestic abuse is a policing priority and one that we take very seriously.

"It is our duty to investigate all reported incidents of domestic abuse in a consistent, robust and effective manner.

"We are committed to working with partners and victims to prevent and detect domestic abuse.

"We have 60 specially trained domestic violence officers. We want to see those responsible for such crime brought to justice," he said.

The move comes just days after an MLA and Policing Board member claimed rises in domestic-related crime had suffered most from the economic downturn.

Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea said: "What's happening is that people can't afford to go out as much," he said.

"So they buy alcohol, they stay at home, drink at home and that leads to arguments and some things develop into more serious issues," he claimed,

Mr McCrea also spoke on the issue at Wednesday's Policing Board meeting and heard that during 2007-2008, the PSNI responded to 23,076 domestic incidents, 9,283 of which were crimes with a domestic motivation.

Members were told that more than two thirds of these crimes fell within the category of violent crime.

Speaking as Chair of the Board's Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee Mr McCrea said: "The Committee is finalising a Thematic Inquiry on the PSNI's approach to tackling domestic abuse and over the last number of months meetings have been held with a range of groups.

"Today's meeting provided an opportunity to discuss ongoing work by the PSNI and the DHSSPS."

However, although the very latest figures show that police responded to 15,405 incidents with a domestic motivation, recorded crime with a domestic motivation has fallen by 3.3% compared to the same period last year.

"Whilst a reduction of 209 crimes is to be welcomed, with 6,078 crimes recorded, the issue of domestic violence and abuse remains of serious concern to the Board," he continued.

"Efforts are needed to tackle domestic violence and abuse and agencies with responsibility in this area need to ensure the best possible services are delivered," Mr McCrea said.

(BMcC/JM)

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