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Gardaí implement Operation Faoisimh to protect against domestic abuse during Covid-19 crisis

Women’s Aid has reported a ‘heightened state of alert’ due to the current health emergency.

Stock image.
Stock image.
Image: Shutterstock/Chinnapong

GARDAÍ WILL BE making calls to victims who have reported domestic abuse in the past under a new initiative to protect families during the Covid-19 health emergency. 

The Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSU) are putting resources behind Operation Faoisimh, and will see gardaí make “phone contact with previous victims of domestic abuse to ascertain any existing issues of concern and to ensure the protection of families”.

Currently there are 245 garda members and staff allocated to the GNPSB and 15 DPSU nationally to investigate domestic abuse and wider issues.

There has been a year-on-year increase, of around 16%, in Domestic abuse incidents reported between 2019 and 2020, according to gardaí.

Gardaí, however, have said there has not been a significant increase in domestic abuse incidents since the introduction of Covid-19 public health measures.

A statement said: “An Garda Síochána recognises the increase in anxiety and fear felt by those who may be victims of domestic abuse during this period of public health measures.

“An Garda Síochána is taking this opportunity to reassure victims that domestic abuse incidents, including coercive control, will continue to receive highest priority response for service.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the GNPSB said the current crisis “has not diminished our service and we are committed to your protection” and victims, or anyone with information about a domestic abuse situation should contact gardaí.

National charity, Women’s Aid, said it has heard from victims who are in a “heightened state of alert, trauma and anxiety because of the emergency” and welcomed reassurances from gardaí that resources are in place to protect women. 

“Women’s Aid has been in regular contact with An Garda Síóchána and are assured that every resource possible will be made available to respond to domestic violence calls immediately as well as the additional welfare check within 7 days or sooner,” it said. 

“Right now, women and children all over Ireland are trapped in suffocating circumstances with their abusers [and] because of the measures necessary to combat Covid-19, women find themselves alone with an abuser who is using this opportunity to further his control.”

Women’s Aid operates a 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900 and anyone who fears they are in danger should contact gardaí on 999 or 112. 

  • TRAPPED WITH TORMENTORS: Our colleagues at Noteworthy are today proposing to investigate the situation for victims of domestic abuse during this crisis, and what could be done in the future to better address their needs. Find out how you can contribute information or funding to this project here.

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