A specific offence of domestic abuse was introduced in Northern Ireland in March 2021 under section 1 of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021. This represents a crucial development in Northern Ireland’s response to domestic abuse. The new legislation has the effect of criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour, therefore bringing Northern Ireland into line with the other jurisdictions within the UK and Ireland, and also with relevant human rights standards. Being the final jurisdiction within the UK and Ireland to criminalise such behaviour has enabled Northern Ireland’s approach to be informed by the legislation enacted in the other jurisdictions and, in some respects, has allowed Northern Ireland to ‘cherry pick’ the best aspects of the approaches of these jurisdictions. There are also aspects of Northern Ireland’s domestic abuse offence which differ from the approaches in any of the other jurisdictions in question. However, although the enactment of the domestic abuse offence is certainly a very positive development, this will not constitute a complete panacea to the problem of domestic violence in Northern Ireland. Legislation in itself is insufficient as regards addressing domestic abuse, and further sustained efforts are necessary to tackle this issue.
|Journal||Statute Law Review|
|Publication status||Accepted - 19 Apr 2021|