26/02/2009

Domestic Abuse Targeted By Policing Board

With police attending around 300 calls to domestic incidents weekly, yesterday's focus by the Northern Ireland Policing Board on the issue is being seen as particularly timely, especially as an inquiry into the issue is due for publication next month.

The Board's Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee met with key stakeholders to discuss emerging trends into its own probe into domestic abuse. Chairman of the Committee Basil McCrea said: "Domestic abuse is a serious problem in Northern Ireland, which has a devastating effect upon victims and other family members.

"We know that it will affect approximately one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime, with children suffering particularly as a result of exposure to domestic abuse within the home," he said, noting that the PSNI attends, on average, 46 domestic incidents a day.

"We also know that many more incidents are not reported to the police. The PSNI has revised its policy on responding to domestic abuse and has undertaken a number of positive initiatives aimed at reducing the number of incidents, in particular the number of repeat incidents," he continued.

The Committee and representatives from organisations who deal with victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, were focusing yesterday on the scale of the problem, prevention and protection issues in addition to the court process and rates of conviction.

Sinn Féin MLA spokesperson on Human Rights, Martina Anderson, was also involved in the round table discussion on domestic abuse.

She said this was the final discussion with key stakeholders before the results of the inquiry into domestic abuse are pubished on March 24th.

"A key aspect of this inquiry will be examining all the reasons why some victims are deterred from reporting these crimes.

"This report will be published to raise awareness and to challenge attitudes to domestic abuse.

"Key areas for the discussion will be the scale of the problem include under reporting, prevention and protection of domestic abuse for victims, investigation and arrests, adequate training of PSNI members in issues surrounding domestic abuse and the role of courts can play in ending domestic violence.

"Within it there are challenges for the PSNI and their approach in tackling domestic abuse," she said.

(BMcC/JM)

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