Christmas domestic abuse is a ‘deep concern’

The Mayor Colr Michaela Boyle with Colrs Sandra Duffy and Rachael Ferguson, Dermot Harrigan, PSCP Manager, and Karen McFarland, head of health and communities DCSDC. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
The Mayor Colr Michaela Boyle with Colrs Sandra Duffy and Rachael Ferguson, Dermot Harrigan, PSCP Manager, and Karen McFarland, head of health and communities DCSDC. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

There were more than eight reports of domestic abuse per day in the Derry and Strabane District Council area between July 2018 and June this year.

The figures were revealed as the Mayor, Colr Michaela Boyle, urged people to be aware of the potential for an escalation in domestic violence over the festive season.

In the twelve months between July 2018 and June 2019, there were 3,051 domestic abuse incidents and 1,519 domestic abuse crimes recorded locally.

This equates to over eight recorded incidents and four recorded crimes per day.

Over the last four years domestic abuse levels have peaked in December, something which the Mayor has described as ‘deeply concerning’.

“Christmas in particular can bring with it additional stresses such as financial pressure and increased alcohol consumption which can exacerbate tense domestic situations.

“I would ask people to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and to please encourage anyone who may be a victim to seek help before it’s too late.”

The PSNI have revealed that across the North 116 incidents of domestic abuse were reported on Christmas Day last year.

Figures also revealed that between Christmas Day and December 27 last year, 373 calls for help were made to police.

Launching the PSNI’s annual domestic violence campaign, the Head of the Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman urged victims to ‘speak out to stop it and we will help you. If you are a victim, you do not have to suffer in silence. You can come forward to report any incident of domestic abuse to us’.

Reports of domestic violence across the North in the last year reached their highest level since records began.

From October 2018 to September 2019, there were 31,817 incidents of domestic abuse recorded across the North.

This represents a 2.5 per cent increase on the previous year.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, said: “Domestic abuse does not only occur at Christmas. We know it happens all year round, but we also know over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise.”

The number of incidents of domestic abuse between December 15, 2018 and January 16, 2019, increased to 3,114.

It has been revealed that police respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 17 minutes.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hilman said domestic abuse is a ‘terrifying and impactful crime’ and it is ‘vital victims know there is help’. “Domestic abuse is a crime and until victims are aware there is a safe environment to share their concerns, they will continue to hold on to the secret of domestic abuse.“

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, has urged people to be aware of the escalation in domestic violence over the festive season

“As a Council it’s important that we keep the issue high on the agenda and offer support where we can to both staff and the public in terms of sign posting them to the right agencies.

“Council is currently working on a new policy addressing the issue for staff, and we will be exploring other ways to offer help to those who need it.

“It’s deeply concerning that the number of reported instances of domestic abuse continue to rise.

“Christmas in particular can bring with it additional stresses such as financial pressure and increased alcohol consumption which can exacerbate tense domestic situations.”

The Mayor urged people to “be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and to please encourage anyone who may be a victim to seek help before it’s too late.”

A number of local organisations offer support and refuge to victims including Foyle Women’s Aid, Men’s Action Network and La Dolce Vita. Victims can also receive support through the Policing and Community Safety Partnership’s Safer Homes Initiative.

The PSNI has advised anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse to contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

There is also a 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline on 0808 802 1414.