A delegation from the US travelled to Ennis to present a Blueprint for Safety, a response to crimes of domestic violence, that could be adapted for Irish needs.
Women are alive today who would otherwise have perished at the hands of an intimate partner, due to the success of the Blueprint for Safety – a comprehensive, coordinated justice system response developed in St Paul, Minnesota, and now being shared with the Irish justice system.
Haven Horizons, the Ennis-based domestic abuse research and development group, has been liaising with the City of St Paul and the Gardaí for the last year, with a view to adapting the Blueprint for Safety.
Chief of Police, John Mark Harrington, who headed the St Paul Police Department while the Blueprint for Safety was developed, described the framework as a problem-solving partnership.
“What really impressed me was that we went from a few years with up to 8 women killed as a result of domestic violence, to zero. There are literally women alive from that period, that in all probability, would not be alive today if we hadn’t done what we are doing.”
Inspector David Finnerty, Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer for the Clare Division told the gathering, “In Clare alone between 1996 and 2016, six women were murdered by someone they knew intimately.
“County Clare is well positioned for consideration for the Blueprint for safety, as many of the mechanisms and interagency relationships are already in place here.”
Senior Commander Axel Henry, from the St Paul Police Department, told delegates he is impressed with the work being done in Ireland to combat domestic abuse.
“Ireland and Clare is certainly further along than we were when we first began to introduce Blueprint for Safety,” he said.
The Blueprint provides a framework for developing strong partnerships among all of the agencies allowing them to communicate risk and safety effectively and close gaps in the system so as to prevent tragedies.
Addressing the seminar, domestic abuse survivor Christy James said she is an example of a life saved, thanks to the introduction of the Blueprint.
“I am here today because all of these agencies have been working together. I didn’t know when I was in the situation what was happening in the background, but from the time I dialled 911 to the time the family violence officer arrived, I was just taken care of.”
Bree Adams Bill, explained that with Blueprint for Safety the burden is no longer on a victim or an advocate as all agencies come together. “It is important for us that the violence and abuse that is going on in homes is visible. The more information the police have, the more information the prosecution has, the more information the judges have, they can hold the offenders accountable in the way they need to be held accountable. Too often the burden is on the victims to hold them accountable and that does not work.”
Madeleine McAleer, R&D officer with Haven Horizons said, “The Blueprint has been proven to improve victim safety and hold offenders to account. It gives meticulous attention to the details of inter-agency case processing. Nationally and international research shows that when agencies do not coordinate their interventions on multiple levels, using sound intervention approaches, tragedy can occur – the Blueprint changes that.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Daly of the Garda National Detective Service Bureau said, “This is an excellent opportunity for sharing experience and knowledge with our colleagues from Saint Paul and to explore the Blueprint for Safety as a means to further develop the multi-agency response to domestic abuse within the criminal justice family. This ties in well with An Garda Síochána’s plans for Domestic Abuse Intervention supporting the victim and their families whilst effectively dealing with the perpetrator.”