PSNI believe it is vital that every individual understands that there can be no excuse for abuse of any kind…

In recent years PSNI have worked tirelessly with partners in government, health and the voluntary sector to promote awareness of domestic abuse and to encourage reporting.

Domestic abuse is defined as: “Threatening, controlling, coercive behaviour, violence or abuse inflicted on anyone by a current or former intimate partner or family member”, and can happen over a long period of time.

Domestic abuse covers physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, race or sexuality is, how much you earn or where you come from – anyone can suffer abuse.

The most important thing to reinforce is that victims are not to blame for any abuse that happens to them. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there is help and support available. PSNI are committed to supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice. In addition to uniformed officers trained to respond to and investigate domestic incidents, PSNI also have dedicated domestic abuse officers across Northern Ireland to ensure that all domestic abuse crimes are investigated, as well as providing support and information to victims about police procedures and legal proceedings.

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past, on Tel: 0808 802 1414.

Superintendent Ryan Henderson, PSNI Public Protection Unit, said: “We do not want anyone to suffer in silence and I strongly encourage anyone suffering from domestic abuse to contact us. We are here to protect, help and support you. Other agencies can also provide support like your GP, Social Services, Women’s Aid and Men’s Advisory Project.

“We have seen an increase in reports of domestic abuse over the last few years and we welcome this as we believe it shows that victims are becoming more confident in police. It also reflects our continued commitment to working in partnership with many statutory and voluntary organisations to increase reporting and improve our response to victims of domestic abuse. Despite the rise in the number of reported incidents we still believe that a large number of domestic incidents are going unreported.

“We are always striving to find more effective ways of tackling domestic abuse and earlier this year the Department of Justice launched the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS). This allows an individual to make inquiries confidentially to police, where they have concerns that their partner has a history of abusive behaviour. This will enable them to make an informed choice about an existing personal relationship. An application can also be made by a third party who knows them and has concerns.

“DVADS is similar to a scheme introduced in England and Wales, which is commonly referred to as ‘Clare’s Law’, and to a scheme introduced in Scotland. Previously, it would have been difficult for someone entering a new relationship to find out, or be aware, if their new partner had any prior convictions for violence or domestic abuse.

“The scheme works in two distinct ways: ‘Right to Ask’ and ‘Power to Tell’. The ‘Right to Ask’ provides a way for a potential victim to directly apply to police for information. Applications can only be made via the PSNI or the nidirect website. The ‘Power to Tell’ provision allows police to act on information that may come to their attention by other means. We will assess the degree of risk and act accordingly.

“I believe that DVADS is a positive step forward in helping to address domestic abuse. Over the coming months you will also see our ‘Walking on Eggshells’ campaign aimed at increasing reports of domestic abuse. Our message is clear, do not suffer in silence. Contact police for help and support on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

Further information on domestic abuse, how to report it and how to seek help is available on the PSNI website at: psni.police.uk/crime/domestic-abuse

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