Footprints Womens Movement Report

Footprints Women’s Movement (FWM) formally launched their research ‘Domestic Violence and Non-Molestation Orders: A Call to Action’ on 15th May 2015 supported by PPR.

Non-Molestation Orders are aimed at preventing abusive partners (or ex-partners) from using, or threatening violence, intimidation, or harassment and to ensure the safety of anyone experiencing domestic violence and their family. The group are calling for the PSNI to adopt and fully implement a policy of informing the person who has taken out a non-molestation order that it has been served on the perpetrator. Non-Molestation Orders are not legally in force until they have been served, and currently some policing districts inform the victim and some do not.

Margaret Boyle, of Footprints Women’s Movement said:

            “Over the last months our group has been involved in research and outreach around the topic of non-molestation orders. International human rights standards require responses to violence against women to be both appropriate and effective. Our work has found they are neither, with inconsistent policies across policing districts and a failure to set targets by which the orders should be served. “

According to statistics from the Policing Board’s Annual Human Rights Report 2014, the PSNI responded to 27,628 domestic abuse incidents between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014, or one every 19 minutes. They also recorded 12,720 domestic abuse crimes - the highest number over the last 10 years. This included 8 homicides with a known domestic motivation, which amounts to 38% of all murders that year. 60 Non-Molestation Orders were served last year in the Colin area alone.

Their research provides evidence that despite domestic violence being a human rights issue much more needs to be done to ensure PSNI response is effective in line with international standards. Despite the Minister for Justice, Mr. David Ford MLA, having overall responsibility under human rights law for police responses to domestic violence, he has refused two requests to meet with the group on this issue.

Footprints Women’s Movement are also calling for the Minister to ensure that the PSNI set and monitor an official target for when non-molestation orders should be served, and also provide written information to the person impacted by domestic violence on how to obtain and renew a non-molestation orders, and the process that should be followed when they are breached.

Margaret Boyle continued:

“In light of the fact that almost 40% of murders last year had a domestic motivation, our proposals are positive, modest and very doable. They have come from women on the ground.

Domestic violence is an area of life characterised by shame and silence, but despite this 9 brave women in the Colin area spoke with us about their experience of domestic violence and non-molestation orders. Only half of them had been informed by the PSNI when their non-molestation order was served. Only two said that the non-molestation order made them feel safe. It is in the name of these women that we do this work. We want them to know that this is only the beginning, and we will continue to monitor women’s experience with non-molestation orders and fight for change. ”

Click here to read a piece of writing contributed to the launch by award-winning author and broadcaster Susan McKay.