Ministers publish domestic and sexual abuse action plan and progress report

Date published: 03 July 2020

Justice Minister Naomi Long and Health Minister Robin Swann have published a plan for year five of the seven year domestic and sexual abuse strategy as well as a progress report for 2019/20.

Cross Departmental actions for year five include:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

  • Introducing multi-agency domestic homicide reviews;
  • Progressing priority areas for the implementation of the Gillen Review;
  • Working with the Department of Education to pilot a scheme to notify schools of domestic abuse incidents, based on the principles of Operation Encompass;
  • Working with the Department for Infrastructure to examine the introduction of free public transport for those going to refuge or emergency accommodation as a result of domestic abuse;
  • Working with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs about domestic abuse in rural settings and;
  • Considering how to further develop the Department for Communities’ Sanctuary Scheme to enable victims to remain as safe as possible in their own homes.

Naomi Long said: “Now more than ever we need to focus on the positive progress being made across government to support victims of domestic and sexual abuse, while also clearly setting out the work still to be progressed over the coming year. 

 “A range of steps have been taken by my Department in the last twelve months including the introduction of the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill to the Assembly.

“The Bill will provide for a new domestic abuse offence and statutory aggravators, which includes the criminalisation of coercive and controlling behaviours.  Work is also ongoing to develop a new streamlined advocacy support service and continue piloting Behavioural Change Programmes across each of the Health and Social Care Trusts.

“A domestic abuse ‘See the Signs’ campaign and a TV and billboard advertising campaign around consent has also been jointly developed with the Department of Health.”

Robin Swann said: “Health and Justice continue to work closely together and a number of significant pieces of work have already been brought forward. My Department is also piloting the IRIS programme which offers training for GPs and practice staff on how to identify and respond to domestic and sexual abuse along with a dedicated advocacy support service for victims identified, both male and female.

“As we continue to respond to the covid-19 pandemic, we know that for many home is not a safe place. For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you. The Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 802 1414 or in an emergency phone the police on 999.”

The action plan is the fifth to be issued under the strategy and is based on partnership working with other Government Departments and statutory, voluntary and community sector partners.



Notes to editors: 

1.  Further details on the documentation listed below can be accessed at the Department of Justice website at Justice-ni/publications or alternatively via the Department of Health website at Health-ni/publications

2.  Implementation of actions will be the responsibility of relevant government departments, their agencies and voluntary and community sector organisations.

3.  Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email to:  

4.  Department of Health media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Health Press Office via email t0:

5.  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 on 028 9037 8110.

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