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Call for 'new girlfriend orders' to be used against Irish domestic abuse offenders

One of these orders was used recently for the first time in England and Wales.

Image: domestic abuse image via Shutterstock

A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE organisation has said ‘Criminal Behaviour Orders’ like those used in the UK could help protect future victims from abuse.

This week, a woman in the UK who has been viciously assaulted numerous times by her ex-partner praised the order, which now requires him to inform police of any relationship lasting more than 14 days.

Kylle Godfrey is serving a three-year sentence for his offence but the Criminal Behaviour Order lasts for seven years. This is believed to be the first time in England and Wales that such an order has been used, the BBC reported.

His victim told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that the order “makes me feel more safe, and other women will be protected”.

“Instead of us women trying to prevent them [from being abusive], they have to go away from us.”

Domestic abuse organisations in Ireland were watching closely and are keen to see similar orders used against offenders here.

Women’s Aid Director Margaret Martin told TheJournal.ie it was “very significant”.

“It shifts the blame and the response away from the victim and focuses on the perpetrator. It’s also really good in terms of safety management. It’s always a concern for women, they say ‘now maybe I’m safe, but what about other women he becomes involved with?’”.

Here, the State is taking responsibility for protecting other women.

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She said her organisation sometimes deals with multiple women who have been abused by the same man.

Martin also said this kind of action against offenders also shifts the discussion around domestic violence away from it being a private matter.

What we would see is that men who are extremely dangerous are not seen as a threat to the wider public. When it goes through the courts, they get a suspended sentence.The courts treat it like there was something to do with this particular couple, but that’s a high risk criminal who can do very serious harm to women and children.

There have already been changes in how gardaí deal with domestic violence, Martin said, and she welcomed their focus now on risk assessment when called to these incidents. She said police are often frustrated at their lack of power when it comes to people they know are violent towards their partners.

“It must be infuriating if you know someone is really dangerous and you can’t protect women. I think this is something that would give them another tool in their box.”

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