Domestic abuse legislation review report ‘welcome’

Date published: 17 April 2024

The Justice Minister has welcomed the findings of an independent review of domestic abuse legislation aimed at holding perpetrators to account.

Minister Naomi Long was commenting following the publication of a review of the effectiveness of part one of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 (The Act) which was undertaken by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland.

Department of Justice (DoJ) and Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) will take forward four of the report’s 11 recommendations.

Minister Long said: “I welcome the comprehensive report, which is largely positive in terms of the first two years since the Act became operational.

“Following the implementation of the Act there was a 3% increase in the number of domestic abuse crimes recorded in 2022-23. Whilst 22,343 domestic abuse crimes in one year is still too high, the figures indicate the legislation is having an effect.”

The Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (NI) 2021 came into effect in February 2022. The Department has now commenced work on advancing the relevant recommendations contained within Criminal Justice Inspection’s report.

Concluding, the Minister said: “We will continue to work with criminal justice partners and stakeholders to raise further awareness of the domestic abuse offence. As the figures show, too many women, men and children continue to experience patterns of abusive behaviour including physical, emotional and financial abuse, therefore it is crucial we utilise the legislation to hold perpetrators to account.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 received Royal Assent in February 2022. The domestic offence covers behaviour that is coercive or controlling or that amounts to psychological, emotional or financial abuse of another person.
  2. The recommendations relating to DoJ are: (1) Take steps to raise awareness of the Domestic abuse offence statutory guidance across statutory and non-statutory sectors. (2) Take steps to further promote participation in the ‘Domestic Abuse – Context and Change’ e-learning package. (3) Review the relevant sections of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 with a view to introducing a presumption of a personal connection, allowing for this to be challenged by the defence in appropriate circumstances.
  3. The recommendation relating to NICTS is: In conjunction with its partners across the courts, should review and take action to ensure accurate, complete and consistent recording of Domestic Abuse – Sentence Enhanced And Domestic Abuse – Sentence Not Enhanced outcomes.
  4. If you are affected by Domestic Abuse information is available online at NI Direct or you can contact the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline, free and in confidence via phone 0808 802 1414 or email 
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