Groups praise Garda plan to check on previous domestic violence victims

Domestic violence groups have welcomed a Garda operation checking on previous victims of domestic violence saying it sent a clear message to “victims and abusers”.
Groups praise Garda plan to check on previous domestic violence victims

Domestic violence groups have welcomed a Garda operation checking on previous victims of domestic violence saying it sent a clear message to “victims and abusers”.

Safe Ireland said some refuges had seen an increase in calls, while others had not, but added that many women may be “unable” to reach out for support.

Women’s Aid commended the stance taken by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau saying the “welfare” approach was the correct one.

Under Operation Faoisimh, members of local garda victims offices are ringing previous victims of domestic abuse to see how they are doing.

The head of the GNPSB, Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, said he recognised people’s fears had “doubled” under the measures and expected an increase in emergency barring orders.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan reassured people that both the gardaí and the courts are operating.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, said the “community policing based model” gardaí were using was “essentially a welfare call”, which she said was the right approach given the “constrained circumstances” people were in.

She said Women’s Aid is seeing “sustained demand” on its helpline and an “increased uptake” on its support service for people seeking to apply for domestic violence orders.

Ms Benson said it has increased its instant messaging service on its website, which was a way for people to “engage silently” with them.

She said the confinement imposed by Covid-19 is “aggravating” anxiety levels of people.

Sharon O’Halloran, Co-CEO of Safe Ireland, said: “This unequivocal commitment by An Garda Síochána cuts across any uncertainty that might exist.

It is telling women who are trapped and isolated with abusive partners that their safety is a national priority. It is also sending a clear message to abusers that domestic abuse and coercive control is a serious crime at all times.

She said there have been varying demands for refuges, with some seeing an increase and others not.

She said silences and decreases in calls are just as concerning as increases as some women may be unable to reach out.

Chief Supt Daly said while families generally had fears and anxieties because of the Covid-19 crisis, those fears are “doubled” for victims of domestic violence.

He said garda staffing levels are at their highest and that 245 gardaí and civilian staff are assigned to local protective service units and the national bureau.

He said while gardaí have recorded a 16% rise in domestic violence incidents between 2019 and 2020 they had not recorded a significant increase since the Covid-19 measures were introduced.

He said anyone in need of urgent assistance should ring 999/112.

Women’s Aid 1800 341 900; womensaid.ie; safeireland.ie; mensaid.ie

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