Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:30 am on 22nd March 2022.
In January 2021, the Assembly passed the landmark Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act. As we know, the Act provides for a new domestic abuse offence covering coercive and controlling behaviour, along with a number of aggravators. The new offence, which came into force in February 2022, marked a milestone in how the criminal justice system treats domestic abuse and protects victims. The new offence also carries an increased maximum sentence of up to 14 years, which reflects the seriousness of the offence. Access NI checks are a vital safeguard against potentially dangerous individuals working inappropriately with children and adults, with more serious offences listed as specified offences that will always be disclosed on Access NI checks.
Given the seriousness of the new domestic abuse offence and its associated aggravators, including, importantly, a child aggravator, it is right that the offence be added to the list of disclosed offences. Sinn Féin supports the motion.