Increase in calls to crime helpline
A support agency for the victims of crime has reported a 12 per cent increase in demand of its services in 2011.
The National Crime Victims Helpline received 3,253 contacts during 2011, an increase of 356 on 2010.
The agency provides support to people who may feel traumatised or distressed as a result of crime. Information is also provided to victims on the Garda investigation process and the judicial process.
Assault accounted for 36 per cent of all crimes reported during the year while sexual violence represented 17 per cent and crimes against property (including burglary and robbery) accounted for 14 per cent. The majority of calls (67 per cent) were made by females while calls from males accounted for 33 per cent.
Maeve Ryan, co-ordinator of the service, said the agency has seen a further increase “in the region of 10-15 per cent” in 2012.
The main reason people call the helpline was to seek emotional support, Ms Ryan said.
“The aftermath of crime can be quite prolonged and can last for years for some people,” she said.
Victims often experience emotional suffering and many callers find it “really important” to be in touch with an organisation “that responds and understands what they’re going through,” she said.
While the Garda response to crime is “excellent” it can take several months before someone is arrested and charged with an offence.
It is during this period – from the time a crime is reported to when the case comes to court - that many victims encounter difficulty. Many of those who call the service are unaware of the time it takes to bring a prosecution through the courts and often experience emotional suffering as a result.
“It can be really hard for people to realise that it could be some time before the person is arrested or charged - especially if they know the person who did it.”
Ms Ryan said there was a “natural expectation” on the part of victims “that something is going to happen quickly,” Ms Ryan said.
When this doesn’t happen, it can lead to feeling of “isolation and powerlessness”, she said.
Ms Ryan said a large proportion of crimes went unreported and said victims were welcome to contact the helpline.
Calling on people not to keep large sums of cash on their person or in their homes ahead of Christmas, Ms Ryan said the helpline is often contacted by people who have amounts of cash stolen from them personally or from their home.
The National Helpline number is 1850 211407. The number for texts is 085 1337711