The Police Service has re-launched their Domestic Abuse advertising campaign in the run-up to Christmas.  The campaign is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents and make domestic abuse victims aware that they can take steps to stop it.

The advertising campaign will run in a number of areas across Northern Ireland including North, South, East and West Belfast, Foyle, Craigavon and Lisburn – where there is a higher incidence of domestic abuse reported to police.  It will incorporate radio, billboard and facebook advertising.

Speaking about the initiative, Detective Superintendent Alan Skelton said:

“Since April – September this year there has been a total of 13,558 domestic abuse incidents reported to police, this is compared with 12,364 for the same period last year.  This increase reflects our continued commitment to work in partnership with many organisations to increase reporting and improve our response to victims of domestic abuse.  Despite the rise in the number of reported incidents we still believe that a large number of domestic incidents are going unreported.

“We know from our research that incidents of domestic abuse rise over the festive season.  It is a frightening crime which can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality.  Very often victims are isolated.   No one should have to endure abuse and I want to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to come forward and report the matter to the police.

“We take domestic abuse very seriously and have dedicated Domestic Abuse Officers /Public Protection Officers in all districts across Northern Ireland to ensure that all domestic abuse crimes are investigated, as well as providing support and information to victims about police procedures and legal proceedings.”

Throughout the past year the Police Service have had a number of Initiatives with partner agencies which included the secondment of Women’s Aid workers into the Public Protection Units, participation in Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences, developing protocols with external agencies and also hosting a number of events aimed to improve professionals understanding of various forms of domestic abuse.

Welcoming the campaign, Gail McLaughlin from Women’s Aid said:

“Traditionally we see an increase in referrals to our services during and after the Christmas break.  Some of these referrals come from the Police Service and other agencies but many women come to us directly. As an organisation we welcome the increase in reporting of abuse – we know that it’s happening to an estimated one in four women across Northern Ireland and feel encouraged that victims are coming forward.  We are happy to support this initiative by Police Service of Northern Ireland and can assure anyone living with abuse that they are not to blame nor are they on their own – support from a range of agencies is available for them.”

If you have been affected by domestic violence, or know someone who has, you can call the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414. All calls are confidential and free from landline. Call-backs are available on mobiles.