PSNI officer says legislation needed to tackle domestic abuse

By Lenore Rice

Supt Clive Beatty, a senior PSNI officer, has said that legislation to tackle psychological and emotional abuse, such as that introduced in England and Wales, is needed to help police deal with the escalating problem of domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

Legislation was to be introduced but has been put on hold because there is no functioning assembly, and Supt Beatty says if it was introduced it would help the police to detect offences and provide more help and support to the victims.

The PSNI can of course use the criminal justice route when the domestic abuse involves the commission of a crime. Of the 31,298 reports of domestic abuse made to the PSNI in 2018 approximately 16,000 involved a crime. The legislation in England and Wales is aimed at prevention and identifying people at risk.

The legislation would enable the PSNI to offer support and help to those who suffer abuse that does not currently involve violence. That can be in the form of coercive control abuse, manipulation and mind games that are usually secretive. In many cases the victims are not aware that they are being subjected to these forms of abuse, as was found to be the case with mother and daughter Claire and Charlotte Hart who were shot dead by Lance Hart.

The review into the killings found that Mr Hart was exerting coercive control abuse on his wife and three children, and that it was not evident to the outside, and the family themselves were not aware of it. There was no violence prior to the day Mr Hart shot both his daughter and wife before turning the gun on himself.

 

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

If you are suffering domestic abuse call the 24hr domestic abuse helpline for discreet and confidential advice. The number to call is 0808 8021414 .

If you are concerned that your partner may have a history of abuse you can request for information about his past through the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme.

To make an application visit https://www.psni.police.uk/crime/domestic-abuse/dvads

If you need legal advice in respect of an emergency court order such as a Non-molestation order or occupation order, contact one of our solicitors specialising in domestic abuse issues by clicking here .