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5,600 cases of domestic abuse in two months of virus lockdown

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(stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

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

New figures provided by An Garda Siochana show gardai have dealt with 5,592 cases of individuals who have been the subject of domestic abuse since Operation Faoiseamh, the force's dedicated domestic violence operation during lockdown, was launched on April 1.

The figures represent a 25pc increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by gardai over the same period in 2019.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said gardai had placed significant focus on crimes against the vulnerable during the restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, particularly on victims of domestic violence.

Breaches

Mr Harris said some victims had also reported additional breaches of court orders - which had previously been unreported - after being contacted by gardai, which were now the subject of further investigation.

The Commissioner said the response from people who had reported incidents of domestic abuse to gardai was "overwhelmingly positive".

He said a significant number of victims had requested a call back by gardai "in person" and they were being followed up by officers.

Figures show the call-back 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 Service Offices have taken a proactive approach in contacting victims of domestic abuse to offer support and to identify vulnerable individuals at risk.

Mr Harris said regional assistant commissioners were also continuing to monitor the number of referrals to Tusla in each garda division.

Operation Faoiseamh is being overseen by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau with support from protective services units in each garda division.

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 during the Covid-19 restrictions.

While the policing watchdog praised the professionalism of gardai during the current crisis, including their 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.

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, with public order offences decreasing 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.

Figures show €34.9m has been spent on overtime so far in 2020 - €3.7m more than expected.

Mr Harris said overtime was required to implement the initial restriction requirements introduced to combat Covid-19.

The Commissioner acknowledged that it would be "a very challenging financial year" due to demand placed on the force in the wake of the outbreak.