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Domestic abuse rises 25pc under lockdown

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (PA)

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (PA)

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (PA)

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

Figures show they 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 April 1.

The figure represents a 25pc increase on 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 lockdown, particularly on victims of domestic violence.

He said that some victims had also informed officers of additional breaches of court orders which had previously been unreported, but which were now the subject of further investigation.

The commissioner added that the response from people who had reported incidents of domestic abuse to gardaí was "overwhelmingly positive".

Mr Harris said a significant number of victims had requested a call back by gardaí "in person" and these requests were being followed up.

Figures show the callback rate for domestic abuse incidents has increased to almost 67pc so far in 2020 compared to just over 38pc 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.

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.

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 50pc in April compared to the same period in 2019.

Burglaries of households dropped by 60pc.

Crimes against the person, including assaults and sexual offences, were down 27pc in April compared to the same month last year.

Cases of criminal damage were down 27pc, while public order offences decreased by 16pc.

In his latest monthly report to the Policing Authority, Mr Harris indicated expenditure on overtime in the year to date was 12pc over budget. €34.9m has been spent on overtime so far this year, €3.7m more than expected.

Irish Independent