Belfast Telegraph

Domestic abuse incidents hit record high with festive period busiest time for police

Domestic violence is growing problem in Northern Ireland. File image posed by model
Domestic violence is growing problem in Northern Ireland. File image posed by model

By Eimear McGovern

Police dealt with hundreds of reports of domestic abuse over the festive period last year as it was revealed incidents have hit their highest level since records began.

There were more than 30,000 incidents over the past year, an increase of 2.5% on the previous 12 months.

Police said the highest number of incidents came on New Year's Day, when 158 were reported - up from 142 in 2018 and 147 in 2017.

There were 116 incidents on Christmas Day, up from 84 in 2017.

Launching their annual Christmas domestic abuse campaign, police said an incident of domestic abuse was reported every 17 minutes.

The number of incidents of domestic abuse between December 15 and January 16 has increased steadily over the past five years, with 3,114 incidents in 2018/19. That was up from 2,704 incidents reported in 2014/15.

The head of PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman urged anyone suffering at the hands of a partner to contact police.

“I want to encourage all victims - regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation - to come forward and report what is happening to us," she said.

"Speak out to stop it and we will help you. If you are a victim, you do not have to suffer in silence. You can come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to us."

She added: "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.

"As the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it is our job to keep people safe. Our role is about prevention, protection and prosecution – to prevent further violence, to protect the victim, children and other vulnerable people and to facilitate the prosecution of offenders.

"Domestic abuse is a terrifying and impactful crime and it is vital that victims know there is help."

Police can be contacted on the non-emergency 101 number or 999 in an emergency. A 24-hour domestic and sexual abuse helpline is also available on 0808 802 1414.

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