The chief inspector of criminal justice in Northern Ireland, Brendan McGuigan, has confirmed recommendations made by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) in Northern Ireland, nine years ago, still haven’t been implemented.
The CJI previously recommended that a properly funded Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service should be established as a matter of urgency – this has not yet happened.
Mr. McGuigan added: “Likewise, we have endorsed the practice of listing or grouping domestic offences together at court on a specific day, as piloted in Londonderry Magistrates’ Court since 2011, and support its roll out across Northern Ireland, in order to speed up the progress of domestic abuse cases and offer a more appropriate environment for victims attending court.”
This initiative has also not yet been put in place in Northern Ireland. Mr. McGuigan said there was “no excuse” for these failings.
His comments followed the publication of a CJI report on Wednesday, June 19th regarding how domestic violence and abuse is handled in Northern Ireland.
Mr. McGuigan said: “Domestic violence and abuse can occur in any relationship. It transcends gender, class, religion, race, age, disability and sexuality.
“Its destructive impact can have far reaching physical, emotional and mental implications for victims and those closest to them.
“In 2017-18 the police recorded the highest number of domestic abuse incidents to date with 29,913 incidents reported in Northern Ireland, which equates to one incident being reported approximately every 17 minutes.”
Mr. McGuigan stated the need for fresh legislation to create a new offence of domestic abuse has been accepted and the Department of Justice (DoJ), and other agencies, have undertaken work in preparation for this.
But without Stormont functioning, and in the absence of Westminster filling this void, the requisite legislation cannot be introduced.
Mr. McGuigan concluded by calling for progress on the issues raised in the inspection report to be made within the next six to nine months.
He said: “Sustained political and social pressure must be maintained in the coming weeks and months to ensure the issue of domestic abuse remains to the forefront of all our minds and improvements are delivered for the benefit of all victims.”
Following the report, the head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, said the PSNI welcomed its publication, and the “small number of recommendations contained within it for the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.
“As a police service we are committed to putting victims’ needs at the heart of what we do and anything that can be done to improve their experience within the criminal justice system is a positive development,” she said.
Original Article available here: https://www.impartialreporter.com/news/17715686.criminal-justice-report-states-no-excuse-for-domestic-abuse-failings/