In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and following government guidance, our offices are currently closed for the protection of our staff and clients.

However, we wish to assure you that all of our solicitors continue to work remotely and are available to provide advice and assistance in relation to both current cases as well as any new matters you may wish to discuss.

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Covid-19 lockdown causes increase in Domestic Abuse but emergency Court protection still available

21 May 2020

It is highlighted this week in newly released PSNI statistics that the number of domestic abuse crimes in the last year has been the highest figure recorded in Northern Ireland the last 15 years.

 

In total, the PSNI recorded 31,817 incidents between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, an increase of 15 per cent on last year’s figures.

The PSNI data further highlights that there have been at least 3,755 calls related to domestic abuse since the start of the Covid 19 lockdown, with three people suspected to have been killed in domestic abuse incidents in lockdown.  The government has been criticised by women’s refuges and domestic abuse organisations for not providing any additional funding to Northern Ireland to assist with the rise of incidents during the lockdown, despite such funding being made available to other parts of the UK. 

The Covid 19 lockdown is undoubtedly a frightening and dangerous time for anyone suffering from domestic abuse at home.  The Stay at Home and social distancing guidelines can easily be manipulated by a perpetrator to control and isolate the victim of their abuse. Not being able to have contact with family or friends or to reach out to organisations and professionals easily can lead a victim of abuse to feeling even more vulnerable and alone.  

If someone is behaving abusively towards you but you are afraid that the current lockdown means you cannot seek help and support, please be assured that the Courts are still hearing emergency applications for Non Molestation Orders if there has been an incident of abusive behaviour within the 7 days prior to an application being made. If the case is an emergency, a Non-Molestation Order can be granted by the Court without your partner/family member being notified.   

A Non-Molestation Order if granted would be served on your partner/family member by the PSNI and this Order would prohibit them from harassing, intimidating or pestering you or threatening you in any way. It is a criminal offence to breach a Non-Molestation Order and the police take breaches very seriously and have dedicated Domestic Abuse Teams to deal with these matters.

Our offices remain open and we can provide you with the assistance you need to protect yourself.  Legal Aid is available to anyone seeking a Non-Molestation Order and can be applied for quickly.

For advice and assistance, please contact Karen Connolly on kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk or via phone on 028 9024 3901