Domestic violence crimes reach another record high in Northern Ireland

By Lenore Rice

The number of domestic abuse crimes in Northern Ireland reached their highest 12 month total since records began.

There were 16,575 domestic violence crimes recorded between July 2018 and June 2019, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous 12 month period. It means that domestic abuse crimes now account for 16 per cent of all recorded crime in Northern Ireland.

Comments by the PSNI and a spokeswoman for Women's Aid NI reference the longstanding problem of under reporting when it comes to domestic violence which can make it difficult to comprehensively understand the extent of the problem and whether actual incidents of domestic abuse are increasing.

PSNI Dect Ch Insp David McBurney suggests the increase in reported domestic violence crimes is perhaps more to do with an increasing willingness among the public to contact the police as opposed to a rise in actual incidents of domestic abuse. He said the "increase in reports of domestic abuse demonstrates our tireless work over the past number of years to increase confidence in reporting amongst victims." He went on to say that "domestic abuse is a terrifying and impactful crime and it is vital that victims know there is help."

A spokeswoman for Women's Aid NI was keen to emphasise that while recorded incidents are up, "it is still a massively under reported crime" and that "police statistics do not reflect the true extent of the problem".

The issue of historical and even continued under-reporting does make it difficult to assess whether the problem of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland is growing, but one thing that is left in no doubt is the sheer scale of the problem - even if the recorded figures were taken at face value to be an accurate representation. Over 3 out of every 20 recorded crimes in Northern Ireland involve domestic abuse, defined by the PSNI as being violent, abusive or "threatening, controlling, coercive behaviour" by a partner, ex-partner or family member.

A free and confidential 24 hour helpline is available for anyone who is experiencing sexual or domestic abuse and the number to call is:

0808 8021414

If you would like to speak to a family law solicitor specialising in domestic abuse issues such as emergency and subsequent Court Orders including Non-molestation and Occupation Orders, Injunctions and Matrimonial Home rights to protect you and your children's interests, click here.