The Derry and Strabane district accounts for 16 per cent of all domestic abuse incidents recorded in NI.
New figures reveal that, between October 2017 and September 2018, there were 3,156 domestic abuse incidents recorded in the local Council area - that’s an increase of 250 (8.6%) on the previous 12 months.
The latest stats come as the PSNI launches its annual domestic violence abuse Christmas campaign.
Scheduled to run until mid-January, the aim of the campaign is to encourage the reporting of incidents and show victims they can take steps to stop it.
The campaign’s message is, ‘If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, that’s domestic abuse’.
Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, has described the new figures as “alarming” and “stark”.
“Domestic abuse is a terrifying crime, which can have a long lasting impact and it can affect anyone, and often leaves victims feeling isolated and alone,” he added. “Unfortunately, many incidents of domestic abuse still go un-reported, but we hope this campaign will go some way towards changing that and will encourage anyone impacted by domestic abuse to report it to us.”
Det. Supt. Henderson said people didn’t have to suffer in silence but can come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to police.
“Domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas - it happens all year round,” he said. “Unfortunately, however, we know over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise and when we look at the figures from last year’s campaign, which ran from December 15 until January 16, the highest level of incidents reported to police was on New Year’s Day when we received a total of 142 calls for help compared to 147 the previous year. On Christmas Day 2017, there were 84 incidents reported to us compared to 96 from the previous year.”
Marie Brown, of Foyle Women’s Aid, says the number of people requesting its support is constantly rising.
“While this is a positive trend, indicating success in awareness raising and increased confidence in services, it also creates a challenge for frontline workers,” she says. “This is why the issue of resourcing is so important.” Anyone suffering from domestic abuse is urged to call their local police on the non-emergency 101 or, in an emergency, always call 999.
A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past, on 0808 802 1414.