Belfast Telegraph

PSNI received new domestic abuse report 'every 18 minutes' in last year

By Michelle Weir

Domestic abuse is at its highest level in Northern Ireland for more than a decade, police have revealed.

In the last year more than 29,000 incidents were recorded - one every 18 minutes.

The shocking figures emerged as the PSNI launched its Domestic Abuse Christmas Campaign.

Its message is: "If you feel like you're walking on eggshells that's domestic abuse."

The campaign runs until mid-January and is aimed at encouraging incidents to be reported and for victims to be aware that they can take steps to stop abuse.

Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson from the PSNI's Public Protection Branch said: "We are launching our Christmas campaign today to remind people that they should not have to suffer in silence and come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to police.

"Unfortunately, we know that over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise."

Last year police received 96 domestic abuse incidents on Christmas Day, rising to 147 on New Year's Day.

Between October 1, 2016 and September 30 of this year, police received a total of 29,409 reports of domestic abuse - up from 28,780 for the same period the previous year. Of these, 17% of victims under the age of 18.

The vast majority (86%) of offenders were male.

Figures also show 31% of victims were a current spouse, partner, girlfriend or boyfriend; 26% were parent and child and 9% were siblings.

Domestic violence has resulted in 41 murders since PSNI records began in 2004.

Police define domestic abuse as threatening behaviour, violence or abuse - psychological, physical, verbal, sexual, financial or emotional - inflicted on one person by another, where they are intimate partners or family members.

Det Supt Henderson said domestic abuse occurs all year round and went on to describe abusers as "arch manipulators" who go "out of their way to dent someone's confidence" and make them think they are "not worth anything and nobody loves them".

"For the abuser, it is a slow process of conditioning someone," he explained.

He noted that police receive a report of domestic violence once every 18 minutes.

He said the number of reported incidents has now reached an unprecedented level.

"It does not discriminate between age, gender, religion or class", he stressed.

Det Supt Henderson urged anyone suffering from domestic abuse to contact police.

"We just want people to come forward. In my experience, this type of thing does not just happen once," he added.

"We respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 18 minutes. It is our job to keep people safe. We know that domestic abuse is a frightening crime which can affect anyone often leaving them feeling isolated and alone. However, we know that many incidents of domestic abuse still go unreported.

"The first step is for people to come forward. 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."

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