Domestic abuse in Northern Ireland is at the highest level since records began, new PSNI figures show.
Between July 2019 to June 30 this year, there were 32,127 domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland.
This is 570 more than the previous year, up 1.8%, and the highest figures since records began in 2004/05.
SDLP Justice Spokesperson, Sinead Bradley MLA, has called the figures a “chilling element of lockdown” while Amnesty International have called on the Stormont Executive to give extra funding to victim support organisations.
Ms Bradley commented: “The increase in recorded domestic abuse incidents and crimes is absolutely appalling and, in fact, chilling during periods of lockdown. With over 32,000 abuse incidents in the last 12 months, the highest since records began, there are on average more than 88 people every day experiencing some form of torment. It’s gut-wrenching.”
She added it was a “sad fact” that the figures may not even show the full increase in incidents during lockdown.
“With people feeling more trapped by an abusive partner or family member, the opportunities to report these horrendous experiences may have fallen. It’s an unimaginable situation to be in,” she said.
“I’m glad that over the period of lockdown, the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Justice Minister Naomi Long have worked hard to secure free travel for those fleeing situations of abuse. But clearly more needs to be done to tackle this scourge and to support the victims of abuse.
“I will be raising the matter with the Justice Minister and will work constructively with her to find solutions.”
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said the figures revealed an “abuse epidemic” across the country.
“Incidents of domestic violence are now at an all-time high, and the demand for domestic abuse services has gone through the roof,” he said.
“Women’s refuges and other specialist charities which support victims here need additional support.
“Northern Ireland faces ongoing high demand on frontline domestic abuse services, on refuges and counselling services; services which are already under strain. This is a life and death issue and should be a matter of urgency for the Executive.”