24/03/2009

NI Domestic Call-Outs 'Endemic'

Police respond to a domestic call-out every 23 minutes in Northern Ireland, in what has been described as an 'endemic problem' of abuse in the home.

According to a report by the Policing Board, one in four women in the province will be attacked by their partner.

Police have been presented with 14 recommendation from the report, which was collated by the Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee. UUP politician Basil McCrea, who chairs the committee, said domestic abuse was "a serious and endemic problem".

"The report has highlighted that under-reporting is a concern and domestic abuse is the least likely of all violent crimes to be reported to the police," he said.

"By the very nature of domestic abuse, the reasons for under-reporting are varied and complex however one important factor in this is the isolation of the victim and the fear of further isolation if a report is made."
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There has been a 3.3% drop in domestic violence reports, however, every year there are around 23,000 incidents of attacks committed against partners or family members in the home.

Almost half (11) of the 25 murders reported in Northern Ireland last year had domestic motivations.

Mr McCrea picked up on the worrying increase in domestic violence occurring within same-sex partnerships, mostly carried out on men.

Prosecution in domestic incidents is dependent on the victim pursuing charges, which in some cases are quickly withdrew.

The PSNI must seek to change policy around this issues, according to the board's report.

Martina Anderson, a Sinn Fein board member, said that despite welcomed progress, some areas still required greater focus.

"I think we have to acknowledge there have been huge strides made by the PSNI in tackling this issue over recent years but it is clear that much work still needs to be done," she said.

"We have identified a number of gaps around training and resources for instance but I am confident that the 14 recommendations emerging from this inquiry will go a long way to closing those gaps and improving, still further, PSNI responses to domestic violence."

(PR/JM)

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