PPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Abuse

Closes 3 Feb 2023

Opened 7 Nov 2022

Overview

This is a public consultation by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPS) to seek your views on our updated policy for prosecuting cases of domestic abuse. The policy document can be accessed here:

PPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Abuse (November 2022)

The purpose of the policy statement is to explain the approach of the PPS in taking prosecutorial decisions in respect of offences arising from domestic abuse. It is intended that this policy will also provide practical and legal guidance to prosecutors dealing with cases of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse offences are regarded by the PPS as serious offences where the risk of re-offending by the perpetrator and the risk of harm to the victim is much higher than in other types of cases. The domestic nature of the offending behaviour is an aggravating factor because of the abuse of trust involved. Complainants will know and often live with, or have lived with, the offender. There may therefore be a continuing threat to the complainant's safety, and in the worst cases a threat to their life or the lives of others around them.

The PPS is committed to dealing with offences of domestic abuse in a fair, effective, sensitive and compassionate manner and without avoidable delay, in order to minimise any adverse impact that the process may have on victims and witnesses.

The updated policy also provides guidance in respect of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021. This has changed the way the criminal justice system views domestic abuse. Prior to the commencement of this legislation, prosecutors were restricted in law to viewing domestic abuse as a series of discrete incidents where the severity of the abuse was often gauged by the degree of injury inflicted or threatened. A new domestic abuse offence, which became law on 21 February 2022, now allows prosecutors to adopt a more holistic approach when considering cases of domestic abuse, ensuring that the range of tactics (not limited to violence or threats of violence) an abuser uses to control the victim is prosecuted where the evidence allows.

Why your views matter

The PPS would welcome comments from any interested individuals or groups regarding the scope and content of this document. You are invited to submit your views using a short questionnaire (9 questions in total) which can be accessed via the link below.

At the end of the consultation period, copies of responses received by the PPS may be made publicly available. The information will also be published in a summary of responses which will be made available on the PPS and SPA websites. If you do not want all or part of your response or name made public, please state this clearly in your response. Any confidentiality disclaimer that may be generated by you or your organisation's IT system or included as a general statement in your fax cover sheet, will be taken to apply only to information in your response for which confidentiality has been specifically requested.

Any personal data which you provide will be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. Respondents should also be aware that the PPS's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 may require that responses not subject to specific exemptions in the Act may be communicated to third parties on request.

It should be noted that initial equality screening has been carried out and no differential impacts were identified. However, comments will also be welcomed from any person or organisations representing Section 75 groups that can highlight any aspect of the policy which may result in an unintentional impact. The initial screening form is available via the Equality area of the PPS website. 

Data Protection

The Data Controller of this information is the Public Prosecution Service, 93 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JR. The Data Protection Officer for the Service can be contacted at dpo@ppsni.gov.uk.

Details of why we collect your data, what we do with it, and how we protect your privacy, along with the PPS Retention and Disposal Policy (detailing the time periods for which different classes of data are retained), can be found on the PPS website. The relevant Privacy Notice can be viewed here.

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