Police called to 658 domestic abuse incidents in Dungannon and South Tyrone

Police were called to 658 incidents with a domestic abuse motivation in Dungannon and South Tyrone this year
Police were called to 658 incidents with a domestic abuse motivation in Dungannon and South Tyrone this year

Shocking new statistics on domestic violence show police were called to 658 incidents of this nature in Dungannon and South Tyrone in the last year - that’s almost two incidents every day.

The damning figures, shown exclusively to the TIMES, were uncovered by Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA and Stormont Justice Committee member, Bronwyn McGahan, who commissioned the research paper.

They paint a worrying picture of the prevalence of violence in the home, whether that be against a partner, a child or any family member.

And, in light of the figures uncovered, Ms McGahan has warned there is an “urgent need” for a new strategy to tackle the problem.

While the 658 reports of domestic incidents is quite startling for Dungannon and South Tyrone, the figure should be viewed in context with the Fermanagh part of the constituency, which saw 908 such incidents last year.

When broken down into recorded crimes with a domestic abuse motivation, the report commissioned by Ms McGahan reveals there were 331 in the Dungannon and South Tyrone policing area during 2014/15.

With 2013/14 the most recent period for which figures are available for individual wards, meanwhile, the report shows Ballysaggart to have the second highest number of crimes with a domestic abuse motivation at 36, with the Erne ward in Fermanagh having 39 such crimes reported.

The number of crimes with a domestic abuse motivation recorded in other local electoral wards in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency were as follows:

Augher - 7; Aughnacloy - 13; Ballygawley - 6; Benburb - 5; Caledon - 6; Castlecaulfield - 10; Clogher - 6; Coolhill - 19; Drumglass - 16; Fivemiletown - 16; Killyman - 8; Killymeal - 15; Moy - 19; Moygashel - 9; Mullaghmore - 19.

Speaking exclusively to the TIMES, Bronwyn McGahan called for immediate action by government agencies.

“There is clearly a need for a new strategy to be put in place to combat domestic violence”, said the Sinn Fein Assembly Member.

“The current action plan has been extended in the absence of a strategy and I would call on the health minister to bring forward a strategy as soon as possible.

“This is a cross-cutting issue and the Department of Justice will also have to implement the justice elements of the strategy.

“The research also shows that domestic violence costs the north £812 million with cases costing an average of £28,725.”

Mid Ulster Women’s Aid, which provides emergency refuge accommodation, support and outreach services to those affected by domestic violence, has welcomed the report commissioned by Bronwyn McGahan MLA, but point out that the figures do not reflect the many incidents which are not reported to police.

A spokesperson from the organisation told the TIMES, however, that they believe women are becoming more confident at reporting domestic violence and abuse.

The Women’s Aid spokeswoman added: “We provide refuge accommodation for a small number of women and their children at any one time and in the last financial year we housed 34 women and 24 children. Unfortunately there were 73 women and 56 children that we were unable to accommodate as our refuge was full.

“In the Mid-Ulster area alone, we received a further 262 referrals to support women in their own home.

“In addition we supported 82 children and young people on a one-to-one basis in relation to their domestic violence situation.

“The figures are increasing year on year, however, we believe women feel more confident about speaking out now even if they don’t go to the police, they will either access our service directly or another organisation that they are accessing will recognise the signs and symptoms of abuse and refer them on to us.”

Mid Ulster Women’s Aid provides a range of confidential services and encourages women to find practical solutions to their own domestic abuse problems.

The service is open to all men, women or children affected by domestic and sexual violence and staff are available to speak confidentially and sensitively.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please contact the free confidential helpline on 0808 802 1414, email 24hrsupport@dvhelpline.org or text SUPPORT to 07797 805 839.