Anti-domestic violence lobby: Acting on information saves lives

THE first strategic meeting of the anti-domestic violence lobby yesterday heard how people were dying because life-saving information was being ignored.

The National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency made the claim as it launched its framework for effective intervention in domestic violence crime.

At the meeting it was decided 10 non-governmental agencies will work to produce a structure for independently monitoring the performance of the gardaí and the courts based on the intervention agency’s model for professionals handling abuse cases, which focuses on information sharing and individual risk assessments.

Its director Don Hennessy said the gardaí, health services, refuges and social services had access to details about certain cases which, if acted upon, would save lives.

The intervention agency presented its model yesterday to a range of interest groups in Dublin’s Clarion Hotel with a presentation from Inspector Pauline Mooney from the PSNI.

The approach is based on a three-year pilot project the agency ran in the Bray and Dún Laoghaire district court areas.

The project was denied long-term funding in early 2007 when the Government opted to set up the Cosc office to co-ordinate a unified response across all departments.

This year the office denied a request for support from the agency. The agency said this prompted its decision to publish its framework privately and re-establish itself as a voluntary group.

The agency said while it supported the establishment of Cosc it did not think it had the capacity to ensure the right services could intervene when victims were at risk.

“International best practice demonstrates the critical need for an independent non-governmental organisation to be centrally involved in all initiatives by the state in particular those located in legal and police systems,” he said.

Cosc said its decision not to fund the agency did not mean it was ignoring the intervention-based model. But the independent advice it sought said it would be unwise to fund the agency because there would be too much crossover with its own work.

Cosc said it would happily avail of the expertise held by individual members of the agency and saw potential in its risk-assessment model which could be developed in conjunction with the probation service.

However, it said it was not convinced its continued existence would represent value for money.

“Cosc [is already working] on an interagency basis with all the key agencies mentioned in the [intervention agency] proposal in addition to the broader stakeholders in the field. Cosc suggested to the agency that one aspect of the proposal where there may be a possibility for further work was in the development of a risk assessment tool in conjunction with the probation service,” it said.

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