Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (274)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

274. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the domestic violence disclosure scheme in the UK; his plans to introduce similar legislation and-or a scheme here; if he and or his officials have had engagement with An Garda Síochána in respect of implementing a version of the domestic violence disclosure scheme here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53091/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can confirm that in 2015, the Department of Justice and Equality, in consultation with An Garda Síochána, considered the question of a domestic violence disclosure scheme (as in place in the UK, commonly referred to as “Clare’s Law”). I understand that the DVDS enables the UK police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.

I have been advised that taking into consideration relevant data protection law and measures in place by An Garda Síochána, it was determined that such legislation was not considered necessary at that time.

However, my Department keeps all law under review on an ongoing basis. As the Deputy will be aware, tackling domestic, sexual and gender based violence is a major priority for my Department. Successive National Strategies on Domestic Violence, Sexual and Gender-based Violence have included wide ranging measures to eradicate such violence and protect victims.

The Deputy may be interested to know that under the second National Strategy on Domestic Violence, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021, An Garda Síochána are responsible for the development and implementation of a Risk Assessment Matrix for all victims of domestic violence and sexual crime.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that good progress is being made on this action. Trinity College Dublin has conducted an academic review of the risk assessment tool and the Garda Síochána pilot tool which was completed in Q1 2019. A process review was then commenced which was completed at end of Q2 2019. I am informed that it is expected that implementation of a risk assessment tool will be completed as soon as possible. This will then be introduced on a phased basis. Its use will commence in Divisions where Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSUs) have been established. These specialised units are trained to ensure the needs of highly vulnerable victims are adequately catered for. It is intended to have DPSU’s in every Garda division by end of Q1 2020.

The Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence also has actions undertaken to review perpetrator programmes. These are designed to rehabilitate offenders and reduce risk and distress to victims and society at large. Further, under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, Judges will now have the legislative power to refer domestic violence perpetrators to such programmes.

The national domestic violence intervention programme , entitled the Choices Programme, also began in 2017. Choices is now being delivered across the State by the following three organisations working with men who engage in domestic abuse and in providing support to their partners/ex-partners; MOVE Ireland (MEND), South East Domestic Violence Intervention Programme (SEDVIP) and the North East Domestic Violence Intervention Programme (NEDVIP).