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Ford welcomes establishment of domestic violence court

March 22, 2018 1:26 PM

David Ford MLA

Alliance MLA David Ford has welcomed the establishment of a specialist domestic violence court in Derry-Londonderry.

The Domestic Violence Perpetrators' Programme will work with offenders to modify their behaviour, aiming to reduce reoffending and encourage more victims to come forward. Around 30 offenders will take part in the nine-month pilot programme.

"The new arrangements for a problem solving domestic violence court follow on from the work done by Mr McElholm, the district judge, in arranging separate sittings of his court for domestic violence cases," said Mr Ford.

"When I visited the local courthouse as Minister of Justice, I heard about the benefits achieved, allowing social workers and support groups such as Women's Aid to make better use of their time.

"This new arrangement will allow for closer involvement by judges in cases before a perpetrator is sentenced. I have personally discussed with judges in New York and in London how this can reinforce the work of probation officers and social workers in helping to rehabilitate offenders and better protect the community.

"I am pleased we are now seeing the first such specialist court operational in Northern Ireland and believe it will benefit the victims of domestic abuse and the wider community by reducing re-offending.

"I congratulate all those involved in this initiative - the Lord Chief Justice, Mr McElholm and his judicial colleagues, the Probation Board and local probation staff, and officials from the Department of Justice. I look forward to the establishment of other specialist courts across Northern Ireland to meet the needs of our community."