All patrol cars are to carry crime prevention kits, including digital cameras, to help gardaí gather evidence in domestic violence callouts.
Announcing the pilot project, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the cameras could be useful where a victim initially doesn’t complain, but decides to do so at a later stage.
Speaking at the launch of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021, Ms O’Sullivan also revealed that dedicated detective teams were being set up in each of the 28 garda divisions to examine domestic violence cases.
The strategy, launched by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, received a guarded welcome from some of the groups attending.
Ms O’Sullivan said the strategy complimented their own domestic abuse policy, which was due to be published at the end of this month. She said domestic violence was “very insidious” and that her members see it first hand every day.
“We’re on the frontline of this misery,” Ms O’Sullivan said, adding the new policy would be a practical guide “from initial call to conclusion of investigation”. It would aim to “reduce the burden on victims”, provide them with the necessary supports and keep them fully informed of investigations.
It involves a new risk assessment system, which will identify risks to the victim, his or her family, and also to the responding gardaí.
Last October, Garda Tony Golden was shot dead by Adrian Crevan Mackin in Omeath, Co Louth, as he tried to help Siobhan Phillips leave her abusive partner.
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The garda chief said she was launching a pilot project in which all patrol cars will have “a crime prevention kit”, including digital cameras.
“If a victim doesn’t, at first, want to or isn’t confident enough to make a complaint, there will be evidence to put to the perpetrator if the victim makes a complaint at a future date,” she said.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the “evil” of domestic and sexual violence was “very deep rooted”. She said some of the statistics, such as rising barring orders, were “disturbing”.
She said a key part of the strategy’s action plan — a national awareness campaign — will receive annual funding of close to €1 million.
The strategy sets out actions for gardaí and Tusla, Government departments, and State institutions.
The National Women’s Council (NWCI)welcomed the strategy, including proposals for monitoring mechanisms and the Garda domestic violence policy.
NWCI director Orla O’Connor called on all political parties to “commit to tackling violence against women in their election campaigns”.
Cliona Saidlear of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said the second strategy was “an exciting phase” and said organisations were “looking for leadership to go with it”.
Vera O’Leary of Kerry Rape Crisis Centre expressed concern as to why money was going into a national awareness campaign and not primary prevention and questioned where the research for the campaign was coming from.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomed the strategy but said it was “very disappointed” there was no provision for longitudinal research. CEO Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said the demand on rape crisis centres and sexual assault treatment units had “grown substantially”.
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