As the Deputy may be aware, last month I commissioned an independent, specialist in-depth research study on familicide and domestic homicide. The study will entail two distinct pillars:
1. the provision of supports to families who are victims of familicide;
2. international best practice in the conduct of Domestic Homicide Reviews.
Ms. Norah Gibbons has been appointed to lead this independent study and is now been joined by practising Senior Counsel Grainne McMorrow and internationally recognised Forensic Criminologist Dr Jane Moncton Smith. Their work will involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including State agencies, family members of victims and non-governmental organisations. A public advertisement was placed in the national newspapers recently calling for interested parties to make submissions to the study by 31 July. I encourage all interested parties who can assist the work of this study to make a submission which can be done by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second pillar of the study will address the issue of domestic homicide reviews. Domestic Homicide Reviews have taken place for a number of years in other jurisdictions. The study will draw on peer related research and consult family members of victims, experts, NGOs and state agencies. It will also consult other agencies/organisations with experience of domestic homicide reviews in comparable foreign jurisdictions. International best practice will be identified and recommendations made in relation to their application to this jurisdiction.
Moreover I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner that, in the context of the categorisation and recording of homicides, An Garda Síochána is currently conducting a review of the investigation of certain homicides which includes a number of domestic homicides. I have also been informed that, separately to this, that An Garda Síochána is developing policies and procedures to inform the overall policing approach to domestic homicides. This includes a Domestic Homicide Review Team in the Garda National Protective Services Bureau examining a small number of domestic homicides of relevance for review. The purpose of such reviews is to serve as a lessons learned review to facilitate better practice in the approach to domestic abuse. This practice will assist An Garda Síochána in seeking to continuously improve their approach to domestic abuse.
Finally, I would also like to advise the Deputy that significant reforms have and continue to be advanced over the last number of years by the Government in making the criminal justice system a more victim responsive one. This includes the introduction of a wide range of victim oriented legislation including the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 and the Domestic Violence Act 2018 and organisational reforms taken across the respective criminal justice agencies aimed at better supporting victims of crime.