Long publishes consultation on enhanced legal protections for domestic abuse victims

Date published: 06 December 2020

Justice Minister, Naomi Long, has launched a public consultation on enhanced legal protections for victims of domestic abuse.

Picture of Justice Minister Naomi Long

Justice Minister, Naomi Long, has launched a public consultation on enhanced legal protections for victims of domestic abuse.

Naomi Long said: “We know all too well that victims of domestic abuse can live in fear of their partner.  For many home is not a safe place.  To further address this, in addition to the new domestic abuse offence contained within my department’s Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill, I am now bringing forward our proposals to introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices, which will be given by the police.

“These aim to deliver immediate short-term protection from all forms of domestic abuse, whether physical or non-physical, and will last for a number of days.  Following this, longer term protection could be granted through a court provided Domestic Abuse Protection Order.”

Protection notices and orders are intended to ensure that action can be taken to address situations where an individual is being abused, or there is a risk of abusive behaviour.  Importantly, they won’t require the victim to take action, should they not wish to. Under the proposed arrangements this could be done by the police and courts as part of proceedings or on application.

The new notices and orders could require that an alleged perpetrator does not contact the victim; does not come within a certain distance or to their home; does not enter their home; or require them to leave the victim’s home.  In the longer term, provision could be made that these orders could include positive requirements to address abusive behaviour. 

It is proposed that the new measures be tested in two geographical areas in the first instance.

The Minister said: “I am particularly keen to hear from those that have been affected by domestic abuse.  The consultation process will give victims, stakeholders and other interested parties the opportunity to contribute to shaping our future policy as well as the associated legislation.”

The consultation will run for 10 weeks from Monday 7 December to Friday 12 February 2021.

Further information and how to respond to this consultation is available at nidirect/citizenspace and the consultation section of this website.

If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please contact the Department of Justice by email at vap@justice-ni.gov.uk or by writing to Violence Against the Person Branch, Community Safety Division, Room A4.03, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SG

Notes to editors: 

1.  Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email at: press.office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

2.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

3.  If you need support or advice contact the Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline.  The helpline is open to women and men affected by domestic abuse. A free telephone service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 802 1414.  Email: help@dsahelpline.org  Website: www.dsahelpline.org.

4.  If you need help from the police call 101.  In an emergency always call 999.

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