Domestic violence in Northern Ireland has risen considerably during the coronavirus lockdown, latest PSNI figures reveal.
Between March and June there were 1,200 extra cases reported to police compared to the same period last year.
A total of 9,303 domestic violence and abuse-related calls were made by members of the public between March 4 and June 16. This is a 14% increase on the 8,107 recorded during the same 2019 timeframe.
Lockdown also saw an upsurge in killings and serious assaults allegedly involving members of the same household. Alan Gingles (32) is charged with murdering his grandmother Elizabeth Dobbin in their Larne home in April, while Michael Lenaghan (51) is accused of stabbing Ballymena guesthouse owner Inayat Shah to death in March.
Other frightening lockdown-related assaults include that of Michael Gibson who is suspected of carrying out a horrific attack on his heavily pregnant partner.
Belfast Magistrates Court was told that she rang 999 on April 25 after waking up to find the 29-year-old trying to smother her with a pillow.
Gibson, who is charged with assault and criminal damage, is then alleged to have dragged her around a room by the hair while she held an 11-month-old baby in her arms. The peak for lockdown domestic violence reports came in the week between May 27 and June 2 when 727 were made to the PSNI - a staggering figure of more than 100 per day.
Details about the worrying rise were revealed by Justice Minister Naomi Long in response to an Assembly question by DUP MLA Paul Givan.
She said: "The latest PSNI published information provides that from 1 April, 2019, to 31 March, 2020, there were 31,817 domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland, an increase of 135 (0.4 per cent) on the previous 12 months.
"The most up-to-date weekly exceptional release published by PSNI shows that for the period 4 March until 16 June, 2020, PSNI received 9,303 domestic violence and abuse-related calls. This is a percentage increase of 14% compared to the same period for the previous year."
Amnesty International has called for funding to be made available to local domestic violence charities to match the scale of the problem. Before lockdown, domestic incidents and crimes in Northern Ireland were already running at a 15-year high.
The human rights organisation's programme director, Patrick Corrigan, said: "Significant extra money has been made available in every other part of the UK, but not in Northern Ireland."
The Scottish Government has given £1.35million to Scottish Women's Aid, while the UK Government committed a £28million package for domestic violence victims, and £3.8million for community-based domestic abuse and modern slavery services in England and Wales.