Minister Flanagan brings landmark Domestic Violence Act into operation

 

2 January 2018

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced the commencement of the Domestic Violence Act 2018. The Act improves the protections available to victims of domestic violence under both the civil and criminal law.

 

Minister Flanagan said: “Protecting and supporting victims has been a key priority for this Government. Domestic violence can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences for victims as well as society as a whole. The commencement of the Domestic Violence Act is a key part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. It also completes a major step towards Ireland’s ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. I would like to acknowledge the work being done by organisations who support victims of domestic violence, and their contribution in strengthening the provisions of the Act.”

 

One of the key new protections for victims under the criminal law introduced by the Act is the creation of a new offence of coercive control. This is psychological abuse in an intimate relationship that causes fear of violence, or serious alarm or distress that has a substantial adverse impact on a person’s day-to-day activities.

 

Reflecting on some of the main provisions of the act, the Minister added: “For too long, domestic violence has been seen primarily as physical abuse. The new offence of coercive control recognises that the effect of non-violent control in an intimate relationship can be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it is an abuse of the unique trust associated with an intimate relationship.Another important provision will ensure that an intimate relationship between victim and perpetrator must be regarded as an aggravating factor in sentencing for a wide range of offences.  This new provision sends a message that society will no longer tolerate the appalling breach of trust committed by one partner against the other in an intimate context.”

 

The main improvements to the law contained in the Act are:

 

 

The commencement of the Domestic Violence Act is a key part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021.  As part of this strategy, the national awareness campaign “What would you do?” aims to bring about a change in long-established societal behaviours and attitudes to domestic and sexual violence and to activate bystanders with the aim of decreasing and preventing this violence. 

 

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 is available atwww.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2018/act/6/enacted/en/html

 

ENDS

 

Note for Editors:

 

Information on the orders available under the Domestic Violence Act 2018

 

Safety Order

 

Who can apply for a safety order?

A spouse, a civil partner, an unrelated person who was in an intimate relationship prior to the application for the order, a parent of an adult respondent, an adult person who lives with the respondent in a relationship the basis of which is not primarily contractual, or a parent of a child whose other parent is the respondent.

 

What does a safety order prohibit a respondent from doing?

Using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person.

 

How long can a safety order last?

A safety order can last for up to 5 years. A further safety order can be made for an additional period of up to 5 years.

 

Barring Order

 

Who can apply for a barring order?

A spouse of the respondent, a civil partner, an unrelated person who lived with the respondent in an intimate relationship prior to the application for the barring order, or a parent of an adult respondent.

 

What does a barring order prohibit a respondent from doing?

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting, a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person.

 

How long can a barring order last?

A barring order can last for up to 3 years.  A further barring order can be made for an additional period of up to 3 years.

  

Interim Barring Order

 

Who can apply for an interim barring order?

Any person who is eligible to apply for a barring order.

 

When is an application for an interim barring order made?

The application for an interim barring order is made during the period after an application for a barring order has been made and before the application for the barring order has been determined. An interim barring order will only be made if the court is satisfied that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to the applicant or a dependent person and the making of a protection order would not be sufficient to protect the applicant or a dependent person. 

 

Does the applicant for an interim barring order need a legal or beneficial interest in the property?

If the applicant is not a spouse or civil partner then they must have an equal or greater beneficial interest in the property than the respondent.

 

What does an interim barring order prohibit a respondent from doing?

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting, a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person.

 

How long can an interim barring order last?

If an interim barring order is made ex parte it may only last for a period not exceeding 8 working days unless it is subsequently confirmed as an interim barring order. An interim barring order will last until the court has determined the application for the barring order.

 

Emergency Barring Order

 

Who can apply for an emergency barring order?

An unrelated person who lived with the respondent in an intimate relationship prior to the application for the order, or a parent of an adult respondent.

 

Does the applicant for an emergency barring order need a legal or beneficial interest in the property?

The applicant can apply even if they have a lesser legal or beneficial interest in the property than the respondent, or if they have no legal or beneficial interest in the property at all. 

 

What does an emergency barring order prohibit a respondent from doing?

Failing to leave the property, entering the property, using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; attending at or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person.

 

How long can an emergency barring order last?

An emergency barring may only last for up to 8 working days. Once the period granted in the emergency barring order has expired, no further emergency barring order may be made until a period of one month has elapsed from the date of expiry of the previous emergency barring order, unless the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances to do so.

 

Protection Order

 

Who can apply for a protection order?

Anyone who is eligible to apply for a safety order or barring order.

 

What does a protection order prohibit a respondent from doing?

Using or threatening to use violence against, molesting or putting in fear, the applicant or a dependent person; watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides; following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or a dependent person.

 

How long can a protection order last?

In the period after an application for a safety order or barring order has been made and before the application for the safety order or barring order has been determined.

 

Recent statistics on domestic violence

 

In the recent pan-European Eurobarometer survey on perceptions, attitudes and awareness of gender-based violence (published November 2016), 77 per cent of the Irish sample regarded domestic violence against women as either “fairly” or “very” common in Ireland. 89 per cent of these respondents in Ireland reported that they felt that domestic violence against women is “unacceptable and should be punishable by law”.

 

·       92 per cent of the Irish respondents to the Eurobarometer survey were of the opinion that violence against women is more likely to occur at home.

·       26 per cent reported knowing of a man or woman in their circle of friends and family who has been a victim of any form of domestic violence.

·       20 per cent know of a victim of such violence in their immediate area or neighbourhood.

·       11 per cent know of victims where they work or study.

 

91 per cent are aware of support services for women who are victims of domestic violence.

 

According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) pan-European survey on violence against women (2014):

 

·       8 per cent of Irish women surveyed experienced sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15.

·       Irish women surveyed experienced a number of constituents of domestic abuse by a partner:

o     Psychological violence (31%)

o     Controlling behaviour (23%)

o     Economic violence (10%)

o     Abusive behaviour (24%)

·       Irish women contacted the police as a result of violence:

o     by a partner (21%)

o     by a non-partner (16%)

·       33 per cent of women in Ireland perceived the frequency of violence against women to be “very common”.

·       41 per cent of Irish women reported knowing a victim of domestic violence in their family or circle of friends.

·       42 per cent of women reported being aware of laws and political initiatives to prevent domestic violence against women