Review of bail rules for domestic violence suspects urged

Review of bail rules for domestic violence suspects urged
Stock image

The legal ban on courts refusing bail to people facing domestic violence charges needs to be reviewed by the Government, according to Women’s Aid.

The charity said the prohibition applies even in cases where alleged perpetrators are deemed to be “high risk” and the granting of bail would place the women concerned at risk of further violence and retaliation.

The call is one of a number of recommendations in a major piece of research by Women’s Aid, which is being published today.

The study, Unheard and Uncounted, also calls for:

  • An inquiry by the Oireachtas Justice Committee into domestic violence and the response of the criminal justice system;
  • An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and the CSO to act “as a matter of urgency” in rectifying the lack of data on domestic violence;
  • The Law Reform Commission to conduct an examination of best practice abroad;
  • National guidelines on sentencing in domestic violence cases;
  • A single court to oversee all criminal and family law matters relating to domestic violence, as in other jurisdictions, to be considered;
  • Consideration of an “overarching offence” for successive acts of domestic violence rather than prosecuting one incident.

The report called for greater support for victims before, during and after court proceedings.

The research said the difficulties facing courts in relation to refusing bail for summary offences “must be addressed”.

Under the Bail Act 1997, bail cannot be refused to people who are facing charges which have a maximum sentence of less than five years (summary offences).

“This means that even if the perpetrator is assessed to be a high risk and gardaí oppose bail, the court cannot refuse bail,” the report said.

It said this could have a very negative impact on the women affected: “Leaving an abuser and/or taking action against him can increase the risk of further violence and retaliation.”

The report said the criminal justice system was “too fragmented” to adequately respond to victims and that this included separate criminal and family courts and the lack of communication between them.

“Breaking up years of abuse into separate incidents hides the continuous and cumulative nature of domestic violence,” it said. “There is an urgent need to reconfigure the entire justice system so that the safety of victims of domestic violence is at its heart.”

The report said the lack of data in Ireland on domestic violence prevented any effective monitoring of how the criminal justice system responds to it.

Instead, the research conducted an examination of reports of domestic violence cases in the media, studying 65 cases in all.

The research also interviewed 20 women regarding their experiences with the criminal justice system.

More on this topic

Women who experience domestic violence three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxietyWomen who experience domestic violence three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety

Two separate reports raise concerns of under-reporting of domestic violenceTwo separate reports raise concerns of under-reporting of domestic violence

Campaigners march through Paris to urge more funding to tackle domestic violenceCampaigners march through Paris to urge more funding to tackle domestic violence

'We need to aim for zero women or children, or men for that matter, being killed in a domestic situation.''We need to aim for zero women or children, or men for that matter, being killed in a domestic situation.'


More in this Section

Vets point to 'copper deficiency' as cause of condition impacting Killarney's unique Red deerVets point to 'copper deficiency' as cause of condition impacting Killarney's unique Red deer

Ireland needs to increase efforts as environment is at 'tipping point'- reportIreland needs to increase efforts as environment is at 'tipping point'- report

Five arrested, 232 money mules identified in laundering investigationFive arrested, 232 money mules identified in laundering investigation

School principal breaks down in tears after winning case over dismissal decision School principal breaks down in tears after winning case over dismissal decision


Lifestyle

The bug causes vomiting and diarrhoea and can leave people feeling weak.Tips to help stop the spread of the dreaded norovirus

Susan McGarvey, public health nurse, Arranmore, Co Donegal.Working Life: Public health nurse Susan McGarvey

I have a mild dose of laryngitis, brought on by a throat infection. I’ve tried gargling with salted water but it hasn’t helped much. What would you recommend?Natural Health: How to deal with incredibly frustrating laryngitis

Searching for the perfect perfume to gift this Christmas? Rachel Marie Walsh picks the best.Searching for the perfect perfume to gift this Christmas? We've got you covered

More From The Irish Examiner