19/02/2020

Over 3,000 Calls For Help Made Over Christmas

Over 3,000 calls for help during domestic abuse incidents were made to police over the Christmas period, it's been revealed.

Of these 3,036 calls, some 96 were made on Christmas Day, a time when families traditionally come together to celebrate.

The figure marks a decrease of 78 when compared to last year's 3,114 domestic abuse incidents reported between 16 December and 15 January and a further decrease of 20 incidents on Christmas Day.

A staggering 187 calls for help were made on New Years Day, an increase of 29 incidents.

"This may seem like a small increase but, sadly, there are victims behind every single one of these statistics," said Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, Head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch.

Despite the overall decrease, a total of 1,782 reports of domestic crimes were filed, a spike of 208 on the 2018 figures.

Police say the increase can be largely attributed to the recording of higher numbers of harassment and malicious communications offences.

Violence against the person has fallen, an encouraging factor for officers who pursue reports and continue to arrest and charge offenders where evidence exists.

The figures come as Northern Ireland's Justice Minister moves to progress legislation to criminalise abusive behaviour through Parliament.

The laws, being forwarded through Stormont by Naomi Long, will make it an offence for a person to engage in abusive behaviour on two or more occasions against someone they are personally connected to.
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It's hoped the legislation will close a gap in the justice system and offer better protections to victims.

DCS Hilman encouraged victims of domestic abuse to come forward and file a report against their abuser.

She said: "We wanted to remind people they do not have to suffer in silence; that they can come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to police.

"We know domestic abuse doesn't only occur at Christmas; that it happens all year round but, sadly, historically figures show over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise.

"These figures tell us more victims are finding the courage to pick up the phone and make a report, which is encouraging, but we must always remember behind each statistic is a victim.

"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."

It's known that many domestic crimes remain unreported. Police hope the stark figures released today, 19 February, will encourage anyone suffering at home to come forward.

Victims can contact police by calling non-emergency line 101 or in the case of an emergency are encouraged to dial 999.

A 24-hour domestic and sexual abuse helpline is available to anyone with concerns about domestic or sexual violence, either now or in the past, on 0808 802 1414.



(JG/MH)

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