Sex and property crimes see calls to victims’ helpline soar 11%

The National Crime Victims Helpline witnessed an 11% increase in contacts last year, with particularly large jumps in calls relating to sex offences and property crime.

While physical assaults was the category of crime leading to most calls, figures show worrying rises in cases of sexual violence and property crime, such as burglary and robbery.

The helpline’s 2012 annual report shows that 3,628 contacts were made to it last year, an increase of 11.5% on 2011. It comprised of 3,249 telephone calls and 379 contacts by email, fax and text.

“Our service is clearly very important for large numbers of people and the 11% increase in calls is more than likely emerging for two reasons, greater awareness of our service and greater need,” said Maeve Ryan, helpline coordinator.

The report shows 70% of callers were female. It said physical assault continued to be the category of crime leading to the most calls at 25%. Sexual violence and property crime (burglary and robbery) were the next highest categories at 23% each. Some 10% of calls related to harassment. Just under half of calls were from people living in Dublin. Details on the nature of calls to the helpline show:

* 585 calls related to assaults, compared to 708 in 2011;

* 544 calls concerned sexual violence, compared to 334 in 2011;

* 538 calls related to property crime, compared to 275 in 2011.

Ms Ryan said assaults continue to dominate calls to their office: “Assaults have huge long-term effects, including physical injuries, attending GP, treatment, recovery period, loss of earnings, being out of work, financial implications, the possibility of Garda investigation and court appearances.

“But the emotional and psychological effects can be huge: the effect on self confidence, feelings of security and safety, fear it’s going to happen again, particularly if they have reported the crime.”

She said there can also be “feelings of anxiety, stress and isolation”. She said, in many cases, the assault may have been committed by a family member, neighbour or friend.

Likewise, she said the impact of burglaries can be significant: “There’s a big fear, if broken into, that they will come back.”

* The National Helpline number is Free Phone 116 006. The number for texts is 085 1337711


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