Cork has longest wait for domestic violence cases in the country

Cork has longest wait for domestic violence cases in the country

THE wait for domestic violence applications to be brought before Cork District Court last year was the longest in the country.

According to statistics released by the Courts Service yesterday, there was a waiting time of 14 weeks in Cork District Court, ahead of Dublin District Court, which had a waiting time of 13 weeks.

The Courts Service report, published yesterday, outlined: "Emergency domestic violence applications are dealt with on the date of first application to the court. In the majority of District Court Districts, waiting time for the hearing of these applications have not increased despite an ongoing increase in the volume and complexity of cases.

Cases are listed for hearing in most instances within four to eight weeks of the date of the initial application."

There was also a 14-week wait in maintenance and guardianship applications in Cork city.

Meanwhile, domestic violence applications in Clonakilty had a waiting list of between two and four weeks, while maintenance and guardianship applications took four to six weeks.

In Mallow and Youghal District Courts, there were no waiting lists, with such applications being heard before the next available sitting.

There was a 10% increase in the number of domestic violence applications, with 20,500 cases in court, across the country last year, the report shows. There was also a jump of 30% in the number of interim barring order applications, which sees the perpetrator of domestic violence banned from the family home, or prohibits the person from contacting the victim.

The figures emerged in the annual report of the Courts Service, which was presented by Chief Justice Frank Clarke yesterday.

The report shows there were 154 sentences handed out to people convicted of rape, of which 36% were jailed for five to 10 years and 63% were handed prison sentences of more than 10 years.

No-one was sentenced to under two years, while two were jailed for between two and five years.

The figures also show that there were 18,500 more serious offences sent to the circuit, central, and special criminal courts last year.

Speaking at the event in the Four Courts, Chief Justice Clarke said that while the report related to 2019, “it seems now like a different era”.

“The report for 2020 will undoubtedly be very different,” he added.

“But this 2019 report perhaps provides a benchmark of where our courts stood prior to the pandemic striking.”

He said that a number of proposed legislative changes would help the courts to respond to working within the context of Covid-19 restrictions.

“I know that there are some additional legislative measures approved by the Cabinet which will help us, amongst many things, expand the use of video conferencing and begin the use of filing electronically.

“These are very welcome,” he said.

“I also welcome the commitment in the Programme for Government both to establish a process to identify the current and medium-term requirement for judicial numbers, and also to advance a new structure for the delivery of family justice.

“In a year where we saw 445,000 criminal and 233,000 civil matters be presented to the courts, I can say with confidence that the courts and the Courts Service have evolved and responded to the changes in volume and in case types so as to meet the needs of court users.”

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