Domestic abuse cases in Northern Ireland hit record high
Domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland are at a record high, according to new figures.
In the year to March 31, there were a total of 31,682 cases recorded by the PSNI - an increase of 5.9% from the previous year.
This is the highest annual figure since the PSNI began recording data in 2004.
The figures were released to coincide with the launch of the PSNI's summer domestic abuse campaign, which features an animation aimed at encouraging victims to come forward.
Police in Northern Ireland respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 17 minutes.
Detective Superintendent Anthony McNally of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch said society must never forget that behind each statistic is a victim with a "harrowing story of abuse".
“While our figures show more victims have found the strength to pick up the phone and make a report, we should never forget the often long lasting and sometimes devastating impact of abuse," he said.
"I want to take this opportunity to reassure anyone who is a victim of abuse, you are not alone.
"Help is out there in many forms, and every step of the way, so please come forward and report what is happening to us. Please, remember, we are here to listen and to work with our partners to protect and help you.
“Domestic abuse is a crime and until victims are aware there is a safe environment to share their concerns, they will continue to hold on to the secret of domestic abuse.”
During the summer months, incidents of domestic abuse tend to increase.
Earlier this month, Brendan McGuigan, the chief inspector of criminal justice in Northern Ireland, called for the introduction of new domestic violence laws in the province.
"The need for greater legislative protections to address the issue of coercive control has already been accepted, and work has begun, but the introduction of new laws will be delayed until a devolved government is restored or legislation is introduced in Parliament," he said.
“The systemic failure to deliver faster, fairer justice in Northern Ireland only adds to the levels of attrition normally associated with these crimes and the frustration that victims may feel."
Police have a 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline available on 0808 802 1414 and employ dedicated domestic abuse officers.
Anyone suffering from domestic abuse should contact police on the non-emergency 101, or in an emergency call 999.
Belfast Telegraph Digital