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PSNI in new drive to tackle violence in the home as calls for help rise 6% in a year

Janice Bunting from Victim Support NI, Karen Gallagher of Nexus, Lorraine Ferguson from Department of Justice, Jenny Passmore of Policing Board and Gavin Boyd, Rainbow Project
Janice Bunting from Victim Support NI, Karen Gallagher of Nexus, Lorraine Ferguson from Department of Justice, Jenny Passmore of Policing Board and Gavin Boyd, Rainbow Project

By Chelsie Kealey

Police here receive almost 90 calls a day relating to domestic abuse - around one every 17 minutes.

As the PSNI launched its summer domestic abuse campaign, it revealed that it takes around 30 incidents of domestic abuse to take place before a person contacts police.

The force's latest figures show a 6% increase in incidents since 2018.

There were 31,682 domestic abuse incidents in 2018/19, the highest annual figure since the PSNI began recording data in 2004.

Detective Superintendent Anthony McNally of the Public Protection Branch said the campaign is very much about raising awareness.

"It's not about an increase in crime, it's about an increase in the reporting of domestic abuse," he said.

"Domestic abuse does not discriminate, it can impact on every background across our society.

"We wanted to reach out to make sure everyone feels like they have a voice."

The launch of the new PSNI campaign centres on an animated video funded by the Department of Justice in conjunction with various charities including Victim Support NI, the Rainbow Project, Nexus and White Noise Productions.

It includes a message for the LGBT community, highlighting aspects of domestic abuse that are less often discussed.

Gavin Boyd (33), policy manager at the Rainbow Project LGBT advocacy group, said: "Many don't even understand themselves that they are experiencing domestic abuse or domestic violence.

"When we think about abusive relationships, we so often think about a male and female.

"It's difficult for someone to put themselves into that situation as well if they haven't seen it represented."

Nexus interim chief executive Karen Gallagher (53) said: "I love that the animation has basically explained that there are no barriers to who a victim is."

Janice Bunting, deputy chief executive at Victim Support NI, said: "What I would hope the animation would achieve in a non-threatening way is to highlight that domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender.

"So what I would hope would happen is that anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse would feel empowered to report their abuse and their abuser to the PSNI.

"As a result of that they can then be supported."

The PSNI has decided to launch the new programme now because there is a general increase in the amount of domestic abuse incidents reported at this time of the year.

Ms Bunting said: "Summer can be a trigger for domestic abuse where people are off on holidays.

"People are spending more time together, that puts strain on relationships.

"It's because the children are off school.

"You might be off for two weeks' holiday with your partner, you might be off longer.

"And sometimes that time that you are spending can act like triggers.

"Coming into the summer holidays there is a lot of other kinds of factors that are impacting on relationships."

  • Police have a 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline available on 0808 802 1414. Anyone suffering from domestic abuse should contact police on the non-emergency 101, or in an emergency call 999

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