Tougher sentences are needed for perpetrators of domestic violence, a Dublin Mid-West TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins said an increase in reported incidents of domestic violence and breaches of orders protecting victims from perpetrators was hugely concerning, and tougher sentencing is needed to protect victims and survivors. Deputy Higgins said: “In 2018 and 2019, 6,762 breaches of domestic violence court orders were reported to An Garda Siochana. These include barring orders, interim barring orders, protection orders and safety orders.
“But in 2020 and 2021 we see that when multiple lockdowns were in place, these reported breaches rose to 9017, an increase of 33%. “In 2018 and 2019, there were 2,504 breaches of protection orders reported, and this figure rose by 60% to 4,072 orders in the two subsequent years. “Last year, 4,672 breaches were reported and 278 led to imprisonment so just 6 per cent of these perpetrators are serving time behind bars. The figures for last year show that 322 court orders for imprisonment were suspended. “We see the shocking extent to which victims of domestic violence continue to suffer, which was made worse by the pandemic when there was little or no escape from an abusive partner or relative.
“The issue was laid bare in a recent RTÉ Investigates Programme, which told the harrowing stories of women suffering domestic abuse whilst examining the rise in cases over the last year. “The Government and society as a whole are unequivocal that there must be a zero-tolerance approach to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms. “This starts with measures and education around prevention, to providing the appropriate resources and supports to victims, to ensuring action is taken by the Gardai and courts service to ensure perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice,” said Deputy Higgins.
“My colleague, Justice Minister Helen McEntee, has made tackling sexual and gender based violence a priority for government, and Fine Gael are firmly behind this work. “Gardaí launched Operation Faoiseamh at the start of the pandemic to give enhanced support and protection to victims of domestic abuse, which is to be welcomed. “And the Budget also included a €13 million package for the Department of Justice to tackle domestic, sexual and gender based violence and to support victims. “There needs be a tougher sentencing policy for the perpetrators and particularly for those who breach court orders in place to protect victims. We must look at sentencing around these offences in tandem with the work which is underway by Government to ensure victims have improved services and supports,” concluded Deputy Higgins.