Domestic violence: New laws being prepared for assembly

By Julian O'Neill
BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

  • Published
Domestic violence graphicImage source, Getty Images

New laws to help combat domestic abuse in Northern Ireland will be among the first pieces of legislation prepared for the assembly, its justice committee has heard.

The legislation had been on the cards before Stormont collapsed in 2017.

However, debate could now follow about whether it can be progressed more quickly at Westminster.

They have risen by 12% in a year to 17,251, the equivalent of 47 per day.

Progress of the bill was halted by the general election.

However, MLAs heard it could be passed by parliament before the summer.

If the assembly took back control of the Northern Ireland part, it might be "the autumn or beyond" before it comes into law, Peter May, the permanent secretary at the Department of Justice said.

Committee chairman, the DUP's Paul Givan, said "as point of principle" he would prefer Stormont to legislate.

Image source, Getty Images

"This place can be more effective to make sure it is tailored more to Northern Ireland."

Mr May told MLAs that there would likely be a separate piece of legislation addressing stalking brought to the assembly later this year.

Previously, it was said the new legislation on domestic abuse would include provisions to tackle coercive control, where an abuser subjects spouses, partners or family members to psychological and emotional torment.