New rules in Northern Ireland to encourage the reporting of domestic abuse are working successfully, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has declared as it launched a Christmas campaign.
The Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) helps victims, or a third party on their behalf, to inquire confidentially to police when they have concerns about a history of abusive behaviour.
Between March 26th and November 30th, 177 appeals for help were made to the PSNI under the DVADS programme, while there were 10 disclosures made about prior convictions for violence or domestic abuse.
The PSNI’s campaign to curb domestic abuse, which runs until mid-January, deliberately has a Christmas feel, under the slogan, “If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, that’s domestic abuse.”
The highest number of domestic incidents last year came on New Year’s Day, when police received 142 calls for help, compared with 147 the previous year.
On Christmas Day 2017, 84 incidents reported compared with 96 from the previous year. In all, Northern Ireland saw 31,008 domestic abuse incidents recorded up to last September, up 1,582 (5.4 per cent) on a year before.
The figures are the highest of any 12-month period since PSNI started recording data in 2004/05. Police across Northern Ireland respond to a domestic abuse call every 17 minutes.
Domestic abuse spikes over the Christmas holidays, according to Det Supt Ryan Henderson, from the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, but it occurs all year through.
Domestic abuse crimes represented 15.6 per cent of all police-recorded crime, increasing from 14.5 per cent during the previous 12 months. Harassment, however, has increased dramatically, 50.9 per cent up, with 468 cases.
Det Supt Henderson said: “These stark figures tell us more victims are finding the courage to pick up the phone and make a report, which is encouraging, but we must always remember behind each statistic is a victim. “
Police can be contacted at any time on the non-emergency 101 number or, in an emergency situation, by calling 999.
A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline run by Women’s Aid Federation NI is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past on 0808 802 1414.