More than 2,200 calls about domestic abuse received by PSNI over festive period

Police responded to more than 2,200 domestic abuse incidents in Northern Ireland over the Christmas period.

Jan 24, 2024
By Paul Jacques

Although numbers are down from the “highly inflated figures during and in the aftermath of Covid-19”, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it has seen an increase in under-18s being arrested and detained for domestic abuse offences.

In total, 2,228 calls for help in relation to domestic abuse incidents were made over the Christmas period during the PSNI’s annual Operation Season’s Greetings.

During the operation, 1,113 arrests were made for domestic abuse offences, an increase of nearly 12 per cent compared with last year, and the PSNI said 368 of these have already resulted in a charge.

On Christmas Day, it received 61 calls from domestic abuse victims and concerned loved ones, a decrease of 19.7 per cent from 2022.

On Boxing Day, 87 calls were received, an increase of 3.4 per cent on the previous year.

However, the number of calls received on New Year’s Eve was down by 31.3 per cent to 44.

The PSNI began its yearly domestic abuse awareness raising at the end of November and these figures cover the period between November 20, 2023 and January 2, 2024.

On these “key festive dates” from December 24, 2023, to January 1, 2024, the PSNI also arrested more under-18s for domestic abuse related-offences than the previous three years. A total of seven were remanded in custody.

Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “It saddens me every year, when Christmas time approaches, that the reality for so many is that it isn’t a happy, enjoyable time for their family.

“Usually we see reports of domestic abuse increase at this time of the year and although this year’s figures are substantially more than the daily average, we are seeing the numbers of reports for the festive period begin to decrease from the highly inflated figures during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“This year, however, we have seen an increase in under-18s being arrested and detained for domestic abuse offences. We have focused our awareness raising communications over the last year predominantly on social media and have seen a notable reach with a younger audience.

“We hope this has played some part in giving young people the confidence to recognise and report abusive behaviours.”

She added: “It must never be forgotten that behind each one of these numbers is a victim who, statistics suggest, has endured up to 35 incidents of abuse before coming forward to report.

“We are determined to do all we can to protect them and bring perpetrators to justice.

“Domestic abuse, in all its forms, has no place in our society and tackling these crimes remains one of PSNI’s top priorities.”

In total, 22,323 999 calls (not just relating to domestic abuse) were received by the PSNI during the Christmas period, with 95.2 per cent of those answered within ten seconds. The average answer time for 999 calls during the period was five seconds.

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