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Change in law sees almost 13,000 applications for safety and protection orders

The figures for 2012 were laid out in today’s Annual Report from the Courts Service.

Image: Domestic Violence via Shutterstock

A WIDENING OF laws relating to domestic violence has led to a significant increase in the number of people applying for safety and protection orders in Ireland.

According to the Courts Service Annual Report, applications to the District Court under the legislation grew by 19 per cent to 12,655 in 2012.

This comes after the Domestic Violence Act was amended in 20111 to broad the eligibility criteria, entitling additional categories of men and women to court protection.

Husbands and wives are still the primary category of those looking for orders, sending in 51 per cent of all applications for barring orders. While the majority of protection orders and interim barring orders are granted, less than half of full barring orders and safety orders are granted.

There was a 34 per cent rise in applications for safety orders (5,026 as compared to 3,755 in 2011) and a 23 per cent climb in applications for protection orders (4,192 as compared to 3,403 in 2011).

Although the data showed a slight fall in the number of applications for interim barring orders (648 as compared to 731 in 2011), the number of people looking for barring orders did increase to 2,789 (from 2,763).

Breaches

A number of allegations of breaches of orders were heard by the courts last year. A high number (530) were struck out or withdrawn, mostly because the complaint was not proceeded with or failure of a witness to give evidence. According to the report, reconciliation or another court of action/agreement may also have been reached.

On 15 occasions, the cases were struck out as the summons was not served on the individual.

Of the 614 cases that did go ahead, 119 people had a prison sentence imposed. Another 115 were handed down suspended jail terms, while 71 persons were fined.

In 29 of the hearings, the person who breached the order was given a subsequent probation order. Another 21 accused entered a bond to keep the peace.

Eleven were ordered to undertake community service in lieu of a prison sentence, and 86 cases had no order made by the court. One person was asked to contribute to the Court Poor Box. (More than one order can be made in each case)

The latest figures from Safe Ireland show that hundreds of women continue to seek help from a domestic violence service each day. The group’s National One Day Census showed that on 6 November 2012, 537 women were accommodated at such an organisation. Of those, 22 were pregnant.

Read: New committee report will ‘lift the lid’ on domestic abuse

More: 3 million children in Europe call helplines over violence and abuse

Related: Clare’s Law protects women at risk of domestic violence

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