'Increased confidence' for Northern Ireland's domestic violence sufferers

Domestic abuse sufferers in Northern Ireland are increasing in confidence and becoming more willing to come forward to the police, it has been claimed.

Police domestic violence specialist Angela McBride told the Antrim Times that the recent rise in the number of cases of domestic abuse was due to more openness about the problem and more people reporting such crimes.

Figures last week revealed there were 688 reported incidents of domestic abuse in Antrim in 2007-08 compared to 595 in the same area in 2006-07.

Ms McBride told the publication that "vast" changes had been implemented to help improve the way police approach the crime and target offenders.

For example, a new process is looking at ways in which the victim can be the one who is able to stay in the house, while the offender is removed from the home.

If victims decide to pursue the case legally with solicitors, Ms McBride also attends court with the victim.

Meanwhile, councillor Pam Lewis has described the figures released last week that police attended almost 6,400 violent domestic incidents in Northern Ireland in 2007-08 as "extremely disturbing".

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