Over 1,400 domestic abuse incidents recorded in past six months

Thursday, 15 December 2016

MORE than 1,400 domestic abuse incidents have been reported to local police in the last six months, shock new figures have revealed.

From April to September this year, a total of 1,423 incidents were reported to officers in the Derry City and Strabane Policing District. Of these, just under 50-per cent (698) were designated as being domestic abuse crimes.

The figure places the area third highest of all the 11 policing areas with only the Belfast City and Armagh City/Banbridge/Craigavon policing districts recording more incidents and crimes.

Locally, officers say they are receiving at least two reports of domestic violence per day but that victims are often reluctant to proceed to the courts.

Across the province as a whole, the PSNI says it is responding to an incident, on average, every 19 minutes. While these are shocking statistics there is a belief that a large number of domestic incidents are still going unreported.

And, with the festive season now underway support groups and police are bracing themselves for a spate of cases over Christmas and the New Year; a time when reports are known to spike due to the pressures associated with the period.

Foyle Women's Aid says many women and children will be forced from their homes this Christmas due to domestic violence.

"Women and children who have experienced domestic abuse often have nowhere else to turn for help", Foyle Women's Aid director, Marie Brown explained. "Foyle Women's Aid accommodated almost 70 families last year made homeless due to domestic violence. The organisation had over 550 referrals last year from women seeking help in relation to domestic abuse.

"This year over 20 families will spend Christmas away from their homes in secure refuge accommodation, many more are living with violence, fear and poverty in the community."

Local Sinn Fn MLA., Michaela Boyle, recently met with the organisation. She said: "Domestic violence in all its forms is a crime and we all have to work harder to tackle it. As an MLA in a rural constituency, I am always very concerned about the plight of rural victims of domestic violence.



"Many rural women in this situation can particularly feel isolated and distressed in the belief that they have no-one to turn to. Women's Aid provides a critical lifeline to these women and I am hugely appreciative of their outreach efforts in rural areas."

She added: "It is clear we all need to do more to assist with service provision and funding to this sector. In my role within the Justice Committee I am fully committed to playing my part in raising awareness of these important issues and being a voice for victims of domestic violence.

Meanwhile, the PSNI is urging victims of domestic abuse - men and women - to speak out, seek help and not to suffer in silence this Christmas.

Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke, head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, who recently launched the force's campaign on the issue, said: "Very often people who are being abused feel isolated, vulnerable and frightened and don't know where to turn.

"Through the campaign we are encouraging all victims regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality to come forward and report the matter to the police. Speak out to stop it."

The PSNI says there are dedicated domestic abuse officers across all policing divisions to ensure that all domestic abuse crimes are investigated, as well as providing support and information to victims about police procedures and legal proceedings.

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Helpline is also available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past, by calling on 0808 802 1414.

Anyone suffering from domestic abuse is also urged to contact their local police on the non-emergency 101 or in an emergency always call 999.


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