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How a team of Ballymun gardaí are tackling abuse in the home

A new initiative will see this team taking a more active role with victims, liaising with them regularly and directing them to services.

GARDAÍ IN BALLYMUN have launched a new initiative to tackle domestic abuse (and other crimes committed in the home) in the communities they police.

The initiative, launched this week and known as the Domestic Abuse Co-ordination Team (DACT), involves gardaí identifying those most at risk from domestic violence or who are subjected to ongoing abuse and allocating a liaison garda to that person or family.

Gardaí say this means that even if a number of different gardaí respond to numerous incidents involving the same person, that victim is guaranteed one specially trained garda who is tasked with co-ordinating all their cases and offering guidance and support.

“Historically not all gardaí who were attending at a domestic abuse were familiar with the difficulties that are unique to domestic abuse,” Superintendent Finbarr Murphy said at the launch.

Often, women or men who are the subject of abuse do not feel they are able to report a case or, if they do, that they may not be able to pursue it through the courts. Previously in such cases gardaí often took a position that if there was no statement, then there was nothing that could be done.

“We have now moved from that position and have the members of our DACT trained to understand the difficulties faced by victims and to offer them support, access to other services and agencies and the guarantee of an understanding and empathetic reception when a case of domestic abuse is reported.”

Murphy said the team is also aware that, in many cases, the man in the home is the victim and that domestic abuse is sometimes a factor in same-sex relationships. He said officers on this team have been trained to deal with these matters with extra sensitivity.

“There is also a marked increase in abuse of parents by children and, again, we encourage people to report matters to us and we can help,” he said.

We have a clear message to the abusers; that domestic abuse is wrong, it is not the fault of the victim and that the abuser must stop or seek help to do so.
“We have a strong pro-arrest policy and, where a crime has been committed, we will arrest and prosecute and, where appropriate, object to bails. If there is a breach of a protection or barring order, we will be arresting the person and they will be going to court in custody.”

This team will advise victims of the abuse of their rights and how to get a protection or barring order.

Theresa Woods of the Drogheda Women’s and Children’s Refuge acted as an adviser to the initiative. Speaking at the launch in the Ballymun Axis Centre this week, she said that in her 25 years of working in the field of abuse, this was the most practical and effective programme she had ever seen.

She pointed out that there is no other crime where the victim is required to go home and live with the person who assaulted or abused them. It makes dealing with domestic abuse so complicated, she explaiend.

Sergeant Conor O Braonain, who is the DACT team leader, said all of the gardaí involved had volunteered for the project and had “a keen interest in making sure any victims of abuse get a really good service from the gardaí”.

“We are changing the way we do things and we are focused on giving everyone a top class policing service. We want everyone in the community to know about the work we are doing and to come forward and tell us if they are victims of abuse. I can guarantee them support and a professional and understanding service.”

Anyone requiring the use of this service can contact Ballymun Garda Station at 01-666400 or the Victims Support Office 01-6664418 or email ballymun_ds@garda.ie.

Read: New specially trained garda units to investigate child abuse and domestic violence>

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