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Almost 5,600 incidents of domestic abuse reported to gardaí in past two months

There has been a 25% increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by gardaí over the same period in 2019.

Image: Shutterstock/smolaw

ALMOST 5,600 INCIDENTS of domestic abuse have been recorded by gardaí in the past two months in a surge of cases linked to Covid-19 restrictions on people’s movement.

New figures provided by An Garda Síochána show gardaí have dealt with 5,592 cases of individuals who have been the subject of domestic abuse since Operation Faoiseamh, the Garda’s dedicated domestic violence operation during lockdown, was launched on 1 April.

The figures represent a 25% increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by gardaí over the same period in 2019.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said gardaí had placed significant focus on crimes against the vulnerable during the restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, particularly on victims of domestic violence.

Harris said some victims had also reported additional breaches of court orders which had previously been unreported after being contacted by gardaí but which were now the subject of further investigation.

The Commissioner said the response from people who had reported incidents of domestic abuse to gardaí was “overwhelmingly positive”.

Harris said a significant number of victims had requested a call back by gardaí “in person” and they were being followed up.

Figures show the call back rate for domestic abuse incidents has increased to almost 67% so far in 2020 compared to just over 38% for the same period last year.

In addition, members of the Garda Victim Services Office have taken a proactive approach to contact victims of domestic abuse to offer support and to identify vulnerable individuals at risk.

Harris said regional assistant commissioners were also continuing to monitor the number of referrals to Tusla in each Garda division.

Operation Faoiseamh is being overseen by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau with support from Protective Services Units in each Garda division.

The Policing Authority noted last month that there had been a rapid and sustained increase in the number of children reporting domestic violence to child protection services during the Covid-19 restrictions.

While the policing watchdog praised the professionalism of gardaí during the current crisis, including its handling of domestic abuse cases, it noted there were some exceptions including a failure to arrest individuals where there was clear evidence of a serious assault and breach of a barring or safety order.

The latest Garda figures show property crime including burglary and theft fell by 50% in April compared to same period in 2019. Burglaries of households had dropped by 60%.

Crimes against the person including assaults and sexual offences were down 27% in April compared to the same month last year. Cases of criminal damage were down 27%, while public order offences decreased by 16%.

In his latest monthly report to the Policing Authority, Mr Harris indicated expenditure on overtime in the year to date was 12% over budget.

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Figures show €34.9m was spent on overtime so far in 2020 –  €3.7m more than expected.

Harris said overtime was required to implement the initial restriction requirements introduced to combat the Covid-19 virus.

The commissioner acknowledged that it would be “a very challenging financial year” because of the unprecedented demand placed on the force as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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