Domestic violence in Northern Ireland is at its highest level since records began, figures show.
There were more than 31,298 incidents of domestic violence reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2018, the highest level recorded since the data series began in 2004/05.
Statistics released by the Department of Justice show that of the 31,298 reports, around 16,000 crimes were committed, as domestic violence remains a “serious issue” in Northern Ireland, according to experts.
On average, there are around six murders per year committed through domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.
There are approximately 80 domestic violence and abuse incidents every day.
Approximately 70% of all victims of domestic abuse are female, with around 30% male.
In its first year, 326 applications have been made to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) in Northern Ireland.
The scheme, operated by the PSNI in conjunction with voluntary partners, allows potential victims to receive information on their partner’s history of abusive behaviour and any potential risk they pose, enabling them to make an informed choice about their relationship.
To date, 40 people, identified as being at risk, have been advised about their partner’s abusive past.
The Power to Tell provision allows police to act on information that may come to their attention by other means, and as with the Right to Ask, police will assess the degree of risk and act accordingly.
Anthony Harbinson, director of the Department of Justice’s Safer Communities Directorate, said: “I welcome the take-up of the disclosure scheme and the courage of those coming forward to make an inquiry.
“Domestic violence and abuse is a serious problem within Northern Ireland’s society and we remain committed to tackling it.
“I am also encouraged by the proactive steps being taken by police and partner organisations in making their own inquiries through the scheme.
“We will continue to work in partnership with PSNI and our statutory and voluntary sector colleagues to help create a safe community where we respect the law and each other.”
Discussing the first anniversary of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme, Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “I am extremely proud that we now have this scheme in place across Northern Ireland.
“This scheme shows that, as a society, we say there is no place for domestic abuse or no hiding place for domestic abusers.
“The scheme is different because it focuses on preventing people from becoming victims. Abusers can often move from relationship to relationship, leaving a trail of abuse which the scheme stops from remaining hidden.
“One year on from the launch, I am pleased to see the uptake in the number of people who have come forward to apply.
“This has surpassed our expectations and shows the scheme has a vital part to play in tackling domestic abuse.
“My message one year on is that the scheme works and I would encourage anyone who feels that it is right for them to use it.”
Applications can be made via the Police Service website by logging on to https://www.psni.police.uk/crime/domestic-abuse/dvads/