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.”
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.
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.”
“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 & Support
- Police non-emergency number: 101
- 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline: 0808 802 1414
- Women’s Aid
- Men’s Advisory Project
- NI Direct: Domestic Violence & Abuse Disclosure Scheme
- Samaritans - call 116 123
- Lifeline - call 0808 808 8000
- Watch our Correspondent Mark McFadden's report: