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Police release ‘stark’ domestic abuse campaign figures

Police are continuing to urge victims of domestic abuse, male and female, to come forward. Credit: PA

More than 3,000 calls for help were made to police in Northern Ireland in relation to domestic abuse incidents during the Christmas period, the PSNI has revealed.

On Christmas Day alone, 96 reports of domestic abuse incidents were made to police – down by 20 on the previous year.

But on New Year’s Day, 187 calls for help – up by 29 on the previous year and a figure branded “staggering” by police.

“This may seem like a small increase,” Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, Head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said.

“But, sadly, there are victims behind every single one of these statistics.”

Domestic abuse is a terrifying crime, which can have a long lasting impact and it can affect anyone, and often leaves victims feeling isolated and alone.

We know that victims, both male and female and of all ages, may have suffered abuse many times before calling the police or contacting other agencies for assistance.

– PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman

While the number of calls for help relating domestic abuse incidents from 15 December to 16 January fell from 3,114 the previous year to 3,036, the number of domestic crimes reported rose.

The increase is said to be largely attributable to changes in recording practise around harassment and malicious communications offences.

The PSNI’s campaign aimed to encourage reporting of domestic abuse and increase awareness of the steps victims can take to get help.

Historically, figures do show an increase in domestic abuse over the Christmas holiday period.

3,036
Number of calls for help made to the PSNI relating to domestic abuse from 15 Dec 2019 to 16 Jan 2020

Detective Chief Superintendent Hilman said: “We know domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas, that it happens all year round.

“It is important that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse knows they should not have to endure this horrific behaviour and that there are people who can help them make it stop.

“Unfortunately, many incidents of domestic abuse still go unreported, but we hope this campaign will have gone some way towards changing that.

“We hope these stark figures issued today will encourage anyone impacted by domestic abuse to report it to us.”

It is our job to keep people safe.

I want to make a direct appeal to anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse, or anyone who knows of any incident of domestic abuse, to pick up the phone and tell us so we can make it stop.

– PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman

“Police officers attending the scene of a domestic incident will take a proactive stance against offenders,” Detective Chief Superintendent Hilman added.

“The police response to domestic abuse aims to ensure the effective protection of victims and family members, whilst allowing the criminal justice system to hold the offender to account for their behaviour.

“Domestic abuse is a crime and must not be tolerated. Please call us on 101 or, if it’s an emergency, always call 999.

“A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past, on 0808 802 1414.”

Help and support is available for those suffering as a result of domestic abuse. Credit: PSNI

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