The number of domestic violence crimes in Northern Ireland is at its highest level ever.
Between July 2018 and June 2019, there were 16,575 domestic abuse crimes recorded.
It represents an increase of 10% on the previous 12 months and is the highest since records began in 2004/05.
SDLP Justice Spokesperson Dolores Kelly has said that the latest figures showing a significant rise in domestic abuse reports demand a response from local politicians.
Mrs Kelly, who worked to introduce Clare’s Law and Domestic Violence Prevention Orders to Northern Ireland, said that the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to resolve their differences has left victims waiting for tougher new laws.
She said: “Domestic abuse is an insidious crime that leaves vulnerable men and women subject to physical, emotional and psychological attack. If it isn’t physical violence, it’s an unending wave of emotional abuse and coercive behaviour that wears victims down and leaves them feeling trapped in a relationship or a home.
“While the Assembly was functioning, I worked hard with Justice Minister Claire Sugden to introduce the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure scheme to give people the right to know if their partner has a history of abusive behaviour. We also worked to introduce Domestic Violence Prevention Orders, giving the PSNI more powers to tackle suspected abuse and keep victims safe.
“The truth of the matter is that we need to do more to tackle this evil crime and deal with those responsible. Police need stronger powers, we need to be able to house victims quickly and those working with the victims of abuse need more resources. All of this has been held up by the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to restore power sharing government. Their party political disagreements are not more important than victims. It’s time to get our priorities right."