Detective units hope to tackle domestic violence

Gardaí are hoping to reduce deaths and serious injury from domestic and sexual violence with the introduction of specialised units manned by highly trained detectives, in Cork, Louth, and Dublin.

In the past 20 years, 209 women have died violently in this country — 131 of these women were killed in their own homes.

Under the new approach, regular gardaí will still respond immediately to incidents and carry out a general risk assessment around the house call. The following day, the cases will be taken over by the new units, with victims given a key Garda contact who will conduct more extensive risk assessments around these women and children so the likelihood of violence escalating can be better predicted.

Detective Superintendent Michael Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau will outline plans for the units at a North Cork Domestic Violence Project ‘You are Not Alone’ conference at Cork Institute of Technology today.

The units are to be set up in Cork, Louth, and Dublin this year as gardaí move towards a “more consistent and professional response” to such abuse.

Det Supt Daly said a number of gardaí at the bureau have already completed specialised training in domestic abuse, sex abuse, the handling of sex abuse offenders, human trafficking, and organised prostitution. Staff at the new divisional units will receive similar expert training.

“Under our domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence strategy, standards will become more consistent across the teams. The divisional protective services units in Cork, Louth, and Dublin metropolitan region west will mirror what the bureau is doing on a national scale,” he said, adding that, in time, the units will be extended to all Garda divisions.

Meanwhile, UK-based safeguarding consultant Maddie Bell, who also works with Barnardos, has said domestic violence homicides and child deaths from abuse can be reduced with the correct risk-assessment tools.

Ms Bell, who will speak in Cork today, has developed her own tool for social workers as she says some tools are too dependent on disclosures from the victims.

The Domestic Abuse, Stalking, and Honour Based Violence (DASH 2009) risk-assessment model was implemented across all police services in the UK eight years ago. It is believed the gardaí want to introduce a more up-to-date approach.

“We are also revising our policy on domestic abuse intervention and are currently developing risk assessment tools to identify and manage risk within families,” said a Garda spokesman.

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