The Director of Public Prosecutions has said that there has been an 87% increase so far this year in the number of files submitted to her office related to domestic violence or the breach of a court order.

Speaking at the Annual National Prosecutors' Conference, Claire Loftus said she welcomed the priority given to these cases by the court system.

In 2019, the DPP's office received a total of 464 files where domestic violence or breach of a court order was involved, and by the end of last month the office had received 684 such files.

While this is the area with the biggest increase, the number of files submitted for a decision on prosecution in all areas is up by 22% on last year, an increase the DPP has described as remarkable.

She said a new area of work has emerged directly as a result of the pandemic.

Her office has received 447 files related to breaches of Covid-19 regulations and directed prosecution in 262 cases involving 401 suspects.

Ms Loftus welcomed the efforts made by the Courts Service to keep the business of criminal cases going but said despite this, there is a significant backlog which will continue to grow until the pandemic is over.

She is calling for a system of preliminary trial hearings to make the system more efficient and has welcomed a commitment by the Minister for Justice to legislate for this.