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Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Northern Ireland Doctors Raise Concerns Over Domestic Abuse

Article Date: 01 Apr 2009 – 4:00 PDT

The BMA(NI) highlighted its concerns about domestic violence to local Assembly members in advance of the motion put forward by Sinn Fein MLAs Sue Ramsey and Jennifer McCann.

Commenting on recent Policing Board figures which indicated that police officers in Northern Ireland respond to a domestic incident every 23 minutes, Dr Brian Patterson, Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland Council said,

“The BMA supports the range of efforts being made by the police, the DHSSPS and by individual MLAs in both raising awareness and tackling the unacceptable levels of domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

“As doctors, we are well placed to help victims and their families and it is important that we support our patients when they come forward to discuss this.”

1 The BMA(NI) briefing note on Domestic Abuse (March 2009) suggests that the Northern Ireland Executive should:

a. Raise general awareness of domestic abuse, including its prevalence, manifestation and available support for victims.

b. Ensure strategies to address domestic abuse, such as ‘Tackling violence at home – a strategy for addressing domestic violence and abuse in Northern Ireland’, are highlighted.

c. Develop a structured and statutory basis for addressing domestic abuse at a local level.

d. Recognise that men are also victims of domestic abuse and this needs to be taken into consideration when developing policy.

e. Work to identify and combat the barriers to reporting incidents of domestic abuse.

f. Promote a ‘zero-tolerance’ attitude to domestic abuse.

g. Ensure that information about support services is readily available in healthcare settings such as GP surgeries, A&E units and maternity departments.

h. Raise awareness of the scale of domestic abuse among Section 75 groups, and break down the barriers for such individuals to access the services and protection they need.

i. empower victims to report the abuse to the police.

2 Please contact the BMA(NI) Press Office for a copy of the briefing note

3 Further information is contained in the BMA report ‘Domestic Abuse’ (published 2007).

4 The Policing Board’s Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee published its first Human Rights Thematic Inquiry on 24 March 2009 examining how effectively the PSNI are tackling domestic abuse in Northern Ireland

Sara Morrow
Public Affairs Officer
British Medical Association Northern Ireland
16 Cromac Place
Cromac Wood, Ormeau Road,
Belfast BT7 2JB

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