‘Ticking timebomb’ – new Garda operation to protect victims of domestic violence in Waterford during Covid-19 crisis
Gardai have launched a new operation to protect victims of domestic abuse in Waterford during the Covid-19 crisis.
The coronavirus emergency has created an unprecedented situation in which many abusers and victims are forcibly locked up together while the new restrictions are in place.
One leading campaign group, Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland (SDVII), has warned this has created a “ticking timebomb” and warned of a sharp rise in violent incidents in homes across the country over the coming weeks and months.
Last week the Chief Superintendent of the Waterford Division, Padraig Dunne, told WLRfm there has been an increase in domestic violence incident, adding alcohol is “a big factor”.
In an effort to protect victims, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) this week launched ‘Operation Faoisimh’, which they described as “a proactive initiative … designed to ensure victims of domestic abuse are supported and protected in this extraordinary time”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the GNPSB said: “I am conscious and aware that victims of Domestic Abuse can feel afraid and concerned at this time and I wish to assure those experiencing such abuse that An Garda Síochána are available and willing to assist you in this difficult time.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has not diminished our service and we are committed to your protection. If you are a victim of abuse or you know of a family member or friend who is a victim of such abuse, that information is important to us and I ask that you make contact with An Garda Síochána.
“If you require urgent assistance or support, please call 999 or 112, we are there to listen to help and to protect.”
Gardai this week confirmed there has been a a year on year increase of 16% in the reporting of domestic abuse incidents.
The force said they have not “currently recorded a significant increase in domestic abuse incidents” since the Covid-19 measures were put in place.
However, SDVII said they have experienced a significant increase in calls to its helplines over the past fortnight.
SDVII founder Priscilla Grainger said she has personally spoken to “dozens” of women, and some men, who are living in a nightmare situation, locked up indefinitely in close quarters with their abusers.
“We’ve had over 80 calls in the past week alone, and the figure is rising every day,” Ms Grainger (pictured below with her daughter Ainie) added.
Ms Grainger said the problem is exacerbated by the fact that a significant proportion of domestic abusers are addicts, many of whom are now stuck at home without access to pubs, drugs or the bookies.
“Who do you think they’re going to take it out on? Unfortunately, it’s usually their victims, those closest to them and – in many cases – the children who are in the firing line.”
SDVII is calling for senior gardai in every Garda district to be given emergency powers to enact safety, protection and barring orders in cases where victims are living under the threat of violence.
SDVII has reassured all it members and anyone who needs help throughout the Covid-19 crisis that its services remain available to those who need it.
Anyone who requires help can contact Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland on 086 869 7022, or visit the website: www.stopdomesticviolence.ie and Facebook page www.facebook.com/pg/stopdomesticviolenceinireland/about