Clare Bailey MLA calls for zero tolerance of domestic and sexual violence

Thursday November 30 2017

Green Party NI MLA Clare Bailey says it is time to show zero tolerance to domestic and sexual violence.

She said she is outraged at the level of domestic violence incidents recorded by the PSNI 2016-17, with the number of incidents escalating from 28,780 in 2015/16 to 29,404 in 2016/17.

The South Belfast MLA said: “Domestic violence in our society is reaching epidemic proportions in Northern Ireland, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  The under-reporting of domestic abuse incidents is known to be an issue, due to the nature of the crime.

“Statistics from the Northern Ireland Crime Survey show that 2008/09 to 2010/11, only 31.1% of domestic abuse ‘worst’ cases were reported to the police.

“In the case of lifetime abuse cases (where the victim had experienced some form of partner abuse at any time since the age of 16), the figure is even lower: only 27.1% of these cases had been reported to police.”

The Green Party MLA said demand for vital support services for victims and survivors at organisations such as Women’s Aid and Nexus are increasing daily while these organisations have had their funding cut.

“It is time we showed zero tolerance to domestic and sexual violence. We need decent domestic violence and coercive control legislation similar to that in the UK, swift and harsh sentencing of perpetrators, and adequately resourced specialist support services for victims, survivors and their families” she said.

“I met recently with Cara Cash, Chief Executive of Nexus, who outlined that they have currently a waiting list of 700+ people who desperately need to access counselling services for sexual abuse while their core funding from Department of Health continues to be reduced.

“This is totally shocking and I call on the Department of Health to urgently review how they allocate resource provision to this vital service. When people have taken the brave step to come forward and seek help, how can we just say ‘sorry we can’t help join the waiting list’?”

Jan Melia, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland, said: “Whilst it is encouraging that victims are increasingly coming forward to report domestic abuse to police, the numbers indisputably show that domestic violence remains a huge problem in our society.

“Even though there were almost 30,000 domestic violence incidents reported to police in the last year, there are only 52 specialist Domestic Abuse Officers in the PSNI – that’s one for every 565 incidents.

“It is clear that if we are to tackle the scourge of domestic violence, responding agencies must be given adequate resources to do so effectively. That means providing funding for agencies to carry out preventative, early intervention and protection work, providing responding officers with more in-depth specialist training, and placing more Women’s Aid support staff in police stations to support victims and officers.”

Clare continued: “The Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse in Northern Ireland Strategy was launched in 2016. The vision of the Strategy is to have a society in Northern Ireland in which domestic and sexual violence is not tolerated in any form, effective tailored preventative and responsive services are provided, all victims are supported, and perpetrators are held to account.

“I am calling on the two largest parties to get back into government so that we can seriously tackle this huge issue which is a blight on so many families’ lives. If they had not brought the house down last January, the Assembly would have passed our first ever specific piece of legislation on coercive control.”


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Linda Stewart

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07594 391264