Tag Archives: domestic abuse

Working Across the Justice System to Tackle Domestic Abuse

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland brought together those working to tackle domestic abuse to share learning and consider some of the opportunities for greater partnership working to tackle this crime and making NI safer.

In the online seminar participants heard from the Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA as well as participants from the probation service, the police service, and the judiciary.

Opening the online seminar, Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “I commend the Probation Board, who, through this important event, are creating a space to enable conversation and dialogue that will hopefully assist all of those across the justice sector to think about how we continue to collectively tackle domestic abuse.

Naomi Long, Minister of Justice, said

“The sad reality is that thousands of people across Northern Ireland wake every morning feeling frightened, controlled, isolated, degraded, humiliated or ashamed, often whilst in their own homes. Always on their guard, waiting for the next attack, whether that be physical or psychological. And who is their abuser? A partner, a close family member, the person that sits across from them at the dinner table. Someone they should be able to trust, but tragically can’t. For many home is not a safe place, it is not a haven from harm. Rather, it is the place where there are abused, controlled and made to feel worthless.

“You will be well aware that since taking up post as Justice Minister, tackling domestic abuse has been a key priority for me. This is being progressed through a range of activity at the moment, working with a number of criminal justice partners as well as those in the voluntary and community sector. There is also a range of work that we will collectively be bringing forward over the coming months and years to further address this scourge on society, through both legislative and non-legislative means.”

PBNI’s Board Chair Dale Ashford commented: “Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for PBNI as set out in our Corporate Plan. Today’s event provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the significant developments that have taken place in the area of domestic abuse over recent months, and consider what has worked well and what else we need to do to. Some of today’s discussion focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted upon those who are vulnerable and justice organisations set out how they are redoubling efforts to help those who require protection. Importantly today’s event also provided a forum for us to think about how we can put a greater emphasis on intervening as early as possible to prevent people becoming victims at all.”

Dale Ashford QFSM, Board Chair said

PBNI Chief Executive Cheryl Lamont added: “PBNI’s role in tacking this crime is primarily working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. It can be uncomfortable and difficult to have a conversation about people who commit this heinous offence. When we discuss domestic abuse the public rightly want to know that justice organisations have the right tools and powers in place to protect victims and bring offenders to court. But what happens next? We also need to have a public conversation about how we rehabilitate people, how we tackle the root causes of offending behaviour, how we supervise people who still pose a risk and thereby protect society.

“We know that the interventions and programmes provided by PBNI make a real difference in rehabilitating those who have offended. Amongst the interventions we provide is one for non-adjudicated offenders who have not entered the justice system. This is a really important example of intervening early to protect children and families. Today we also set out the importance of sharing information and working through our effective multi agency arrangements to keep the public safe and prevent people becoming victims”.

Cheryl Lamont, PBNI CEO, said

Panellists included
• Dr Geraldine O’Hare Director of Rehabilitation in PBNI
• Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally, Head of Public Protection at PSNI
• Marie Brown CEO of Foyle Women’s Aid
• Presiding District Judge Fiona Bagnall
• Paul Frew MLA and Chairman of the All Party Group on domestic and sexual violence
• Katie Taylor Head of Community Safety Division in the Department of Justice

Compering the event, Dave Wall, Board Member, said “This is an opportunity for us to reflect on the significant developments in the area of domestic abuse, what has worked well and what else we need to do to and importantly how we can intervene as early as possible to prevent people becoming victims.”
Dave Wall Board member said “This is an opportunity for us to reflect on the significant developments in the area of domestic abuse, what has worked well and what else we need to do to and importantly how we can intervene as early as possible to prevent people becoming victims.”

Dr Geraldine O’Hare, Director of Rehabilitation, said at the seminar “A whole justice system approach is needed to tackle domestic abuse. We must intervene early with perpetrators to break the cycle of violence.”
Dr Geraldine O'Hare, Director of Rehabilitation, said at the seminar “A whole justice system approach is needed to tackle domestic abuse.  We must intervene early with perpetrators to break the cycle of violence.”

Marie Brown, Foyle Women’s Aid Chief Executive, said “Effective communication is key, victims are the priority and Women’s Aid will always put victims first and remind partners to put victims at the centre of any domestic abuse work.”
Marie Brown, Foyle Women's Aid Chief Executive, said

Katie Taylor, Head of Community Safety Division, DoJ, said “Joint working between multi-agency and multi-disciplinary teams has to be the key to the success of Domestic Abuse programmes”
Katie Taylor, Head of Community Safety Division, DoJ, said

Paul Frew MLA, Chairman of the All Party Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence said “Unless we can manage the root cause of the problem, we will be failing victims and we will be failing future victims and that is the message that we must get across.”
Paul Frew MLA, Chairman of the All Party Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence said

New pilot programme aims to tackle root cause of domestic violence

A new pilot, focussed on changing the behaviours of those who are convicted of domestic violence related offences, has been launched today at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court.

The pilot will allow the Judge to refer offenders – who have been convicted of a domestic violence or abuse offence – to an intensive and innovative new Domestic Violence Perpetrators’ Programme (DVPP) before sentencing.

The programme will seek to modify perpetrators’ behaviours and reduce reoffending.  It is also hoped that more victims will be encouraged to report these crimes in the knowledge that their partners may be given an opportunity to get help through the availability of the programme.

It will require offenders, who have been assessed as suitable, to complete an intensive therapeutic behaviour change programme delivered by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).

To avail of the programme, offenders must accept that their behaviour is harmful, unacceptable and needs to change.

Department of Justice Permanent Secretary, Nick Perry said: “This innovative pilot is designed to challenge individuals to truly confront their offending behaviour. It will allow the judge to hold offenders directly accountable for their actions, to challenge them, and to support them to change.

“This new pilot will undoubtedly supplement the excellent work already being undertaken in Londonderry Magistrates’ Court through the domestic violence and abuse listing arrangement. Ultimately, this programme, working alongside a number of other Problem Solving Justice initiatives, will help to create a safe community for Northern Ireland where we respect the law, and each other.”

Offenders will be closely monitored by the judge, who will speak directly to them at monthly hearings, where he will review their compliance with programme requirements. Progress on the programme will be taken into account when determining an offender’s sentence.

A maximum of 30 offenders will be able to participate in the pilot, which is expected to run for approximately nine months.

Speaking about the programme Dr Geraldine O’Hare, Head of Psychology Services and Interventions PBNI, said: “We must work with perpetrators of domestic violence if we are to challenge their behaviour and the choices they make, in order to reduce the number of victims in our society and make Northern Ireland a safe place to live.

“This innovative problem solving programme, allows us to work intensively with offenders, to address the root causes of their behaviour and the crimes committed, and to rehabilitate them in the community.”

Addressing the needs of victims is also vital to the process.  A specialist link worker from Women’s Aid will provide victims with practical support whilst their partner is engaged with the programme.

Marie Brown Director of Foyle Woman’s Aid commented: “A key aspect of the programme is to ensure that the victims of abuse within the family are supported. The protection of victims is paramount within this programme and the role of the link worker is specifically designed to carry out this task.”

The initiative is one of a series of pilots being brought forward by the Department of Justice under its Problem Solving Justice approach, which seeks to find ways to tackle the root causes of offending behaviour.

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information on Problem Solving Justice initiatives go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/background-problem-solving-justice

2.  All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.

THIS PRESS RELEASE HAS BEEN RE PUBLISHED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PRESS OFFICE 22.03.18