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04 November 2021

Domestic Abuse Conference 2021 - Coercive Control in Northern Ireland

Over 120 delegates attended a unique online conference this week focusing on the issue of Coercive Control in Northern Ireland.

The Domestic Abuse Conference 2021 was hosted by the Law Society of Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Women’s Aid Federation, PPS, PSNI and Danske Bank and was opened by Dame Brenda King DCB, Attorney General for Northern Ireland.   

The issue of Coercive Control is by no means a new term in the area of Domestic Abuse, however Coercive Control (which includes psychological abuse and non-violent intimidation) is for the first time it has been recognised in Northern Ireland within a legislative framework.

The first stage of the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill passed through on 18th January 2021 and received Royal Assent in March (commencement date yet to be confirmed but is expected to be some time after February 2022).

This bill recognises children and young people and the impact that coercive and controlling behaviour has on them as individuals through the Child Aggravator Clause which acknowledges that children do not have to be present or witness the domestic violence for it to have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

The multidisciplinary conference which was held on Wednesday 3rd November 2021 provided an important opportunity to educate professionals in the field of Coercive Control and the impact of Domestic Abuse on Children and Young People.

The conference provided a platform to discuss the Laganside Domestic Violence Court Pilot Scheme.

Those attending had the opportunity to hear presentations on:

• victim impact and their journey

• the legislative framework surrounding prosecution and changes to how PSNI investigate

• the remedies available to victims through the legal system.

• the new “Responsible Employer Awareness Training” initiative applicable to all employers.


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