PSNI: Domestic abuse victims urged to ‘Speak out to Stop it’

Victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland are being urged to seek help as the number of reported incidents hits a record high.

By Mark Rainey
Monday, 9th December 2019, 8:00 am
PSNI Detective Chief Superintendant Paula Hillman. Photograph:Stephen Hamilton
PSNI Detective Chief Superintendant Paula Hillman. Photograph:Stephen Hamilton

Launching its annual Christmas domestic abuse campaign today, the PSNI revealed it dealt with almost 32,000 reports of violence and other forms of abuse in the home between October 2018 and September 2019.

On Christmas Day 2018 alone police dealt with 116 calls related to domestic abuse.

This year’s ‘Speak out to Stop it’ campaign – which is scheduled to run until mid-January – is being supported by an online animated video.

Launching the initiative, 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.

“Every 17 minutes, our officers respond to an incident of domestic abuse.

“While this tells us more victims are finding the courage to pick up the phone and call us and make a report, which is encouraging, we must never forget that behind each statistic is a victim with a harrowing story of abuse.”

The 31,817 incidents reported last year is an increase of 790 (2.5%) on the previous 12 months, and the highest since the PSNI began recording data in 2004/2005.

Screengrab from PSNI's anti-domestic abuse animation

There were 3,114 domestic abuse incidents reported between December 15 and January 16 in 2018/19, up from 2,704 for the same period in 2014/15.

“I want to encourage all victims – regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation – to come forward and report what is happening to us.

“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,” the head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch added.

“Anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse can contact police on the non-emergency 101 number or 999 in an emergency.”

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

DC Supt Hilman went on to say: “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.

“As the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it is our job to keep people safe. Our role is about prevention, protection and prosecution – to prevent further violence, to protect the victim, children and other vulnerable people and to facilitate the prosecution of offenders.

“Domestic abuse is a terrifying and impactful crime and it is vital that victims know there is help.”

The ‘Behind Closed Doors’ animation is available to view online at Youtube.