With concerns over an Easter holiday peak in domestic abuse, Tayside Police is warning perpetrators that their behaviour will not be tolerated and they will face the full force of the law if they offend.
At the same time police officers are assuring victims of such abuse that there is a safe route out of the cruel cycle of violence and would encourage them to report all incidents of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse figures for February this year offered some grounds for optimism with 126 crimes being reported – the lowest for two years following a general downward trend.
However, that is still 126 victims of crime too many and Tayside Police is aware that, as with the Christmas and Hogmanay period, the Easter holidays can see a spike in reported incidents.
In many cases alcohol is a significant factor, with people drinking over longer periods as a result of fair weather, at barbecues and house parties and around sporting events during Spring and across the Easter weekend.
In 2009, 190 domestic abuse offences were reported in April and a further 252 in May, while the corresponding figures last year were 194 and 224.
Analysis shows that the majority of incidents happened between 4 pm and 3 am, with the two hours between midnight and 2 am (on a Friday night into Saturday morning) the highest risk time.
Most recent figures indicate that women between the age of 16 and 34-years of age are most at risk of this type of crime and almost half of all victims have suffered domestic violence before.
Assistant Chief Constable Angela Wilson said: “It is not the kind of Easter message that we would choose to give, but we want everyone to be absolutely clear that our officers will deal very robustly with any incidents of domestic abuse.
“Such crime can involve a range of abusive and violent behaviour, where a person exerts control over another person. Domestic abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional, financial or mental abuse by one person over another with who they are in, or have been in, a relationship. They could be partners or ex-partners.
“It cuts across all social, cultural and religious boundaries, and can have devastating consequences for a victim, their families and the wider community.”
In Tayside, many of those affected by domestic violence are not currently in contact with support services. But, with more people now choosing to report incidents there is an increasing awareness that help is out there and that specialists at Tayside Police are equipped to deal sensitively and effectively with this issue.
There are officers in each division who are solely dedicated to work towards tackling and reducing domestic violence who also work in partnership with other experts in this field to offer the best advice and support available.
Tayside Police officers strictly adhere to a joint police/Crown Office protocol that ensures they respond to all reports of domestic abuse as a matter of priority and that detailed enquiry is carried out.
Those responsible for such violence will be reported for prosecution whenever possible. However, in cases where prosecution is not achievable, every victim is given all appropriate advice, assistance and support.
Tayside Police supports and is actively involved in a number of campaigns over the year which help to address the issue of domestic abuse such as “the 16 days of action to end violence against women” and the domestic abuse campaign run by National Anti Violence Campaign.
Operation Linchpin was a successful multi-agency initiative focused at robustly tackling the perpetrators of domestic abuse and ensured that its victims are offered the right support. Partner agencies who were involved included Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership, Perth and Kinross Domestic Abuse & Violence Against Women forum; Angus Partnership On Domestic Abuse, Barnardos and the Community Justice Authority.
Anyone who is experiencing any form of domestic violence should not suffer in silence.
They can contact Tayside Police at any time. If abuse is ongoing callers should always dial 999. Victims can also get in touch with Tayside Police by calling 0300 111 2222. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.