Londonderry is still 'worst for domestic violence'

Members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board's Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee met in Londonderry on Friday to discuss the policing of domestic abuse with local support groups and the PSNI.

Policing Board member Martina Anderson said the problem of domestic violence is still worse in Derry than anywhere else in Northern Ireland.

"The latest PSNI statistics show that there were 4,137 domestic violence incidents in 'G' District over the last year - 2,429 of these were in Foyle and that represents a significant increase on the previous year," Ms. Anderson said.

"It's important to point out that there has been a lot of good work done between the PSNI and organisations such as Foyle Womens Aid to encourage the victims of domestic violence to come forward and that may be partly responsible for this spike in the numbers locally."

She said that, despite domestic violence being a hugely under-reported crime, the PSNI responded to an average of one domestic incident every 23 minutes.

"The fact is that domestic abuse will affect approx one in four women in their lifetime, with children suffering particularly as a result of exposure to it within the home."

Jonathan Bell MLA and policing board member stated that "as a society we are indebted to Womens Aid and our police for their diligence and expertise in addressing domestic violence in Northern Ireland".

He said that Womens Aid and the police deserve to be highly commended for their "comprehensive professionalism".

"Progress continues to be made and the police are to be highly praised for successfully sustaining a prosecution recently against a perpetrator where a complaint had been withdrawn.

"These are complex and difficult prosecutions the expertise of our police in achieving this is noteworthy," he said.