Significant increase in domestic abuse incidents in 2020

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has expressed “alarm” at new figures showing a significant increase in domestic abuse incidents across Ireland during 2020.

In a written reply to Deputy McNamara, the Department of Justice confirmed that provisional figures available to An Garda Síochána for 2020 reveal that Gardaí received approximately 43,000 calls to respond to domestic abuse incidents, representing a 16% increase on 2019.

In excess of 4000 criminal charges were referred for breaches of domestic abuse court orders, up 25% on 2019, and in excess of 7600 criminal charges in total for crimes involving an element of domestic abuse were reported in 2020, up 24% on 2019.

The Department has also confirmed that in excess of 4300 Domestic Abuse Court Orders were notified to An Garda Siochana in 2020.

“Bearing in mind that Ireland is experiencing an extraordinary time of crisis, these numbers are shocking and highlight the wider implications for society of the pandemic and the Government’s response to it,” stated Deputy McNamara.

“While there are a number of organisations across Ireland working tirelessly to provide professional support to domestic abuse survivors, it is clear that wider supports are needed in light of the growing incidences of domestic abuse,” added Deputy McNamara. “Furthermore, NPHET in its recommendations to Government must take cognisance of the implications of ongoing restrictions for society.”

In her response to Deputy McNamara, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said, “I would like to assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána attaches the highest priority to domestic abuse incidents and in order to ensure appropriate targeted and proactive action and supports during the pandemic established Operation Faoiseamh. Operation Faoiseamh continues to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are supported and protected by An Garda Síochána during this extraordinary time and ensures that domestic abuse incidents are receiving the highest priority response.”

“I can also assure the Deputy that tackling domestic abuse and providing supports for victims is a priority for me as Minister and for Government. I am working with my colleagues and with our partners to ensure we have an appropriate collective national response that supports victims and holds perpetrators to account,” added the Minister.

Additional provisional figures available to An Garda Síochána for 2020:
• 3 convictions recorded in 2020 for Coercive Control
• 1 Circuit Court conviction by Jury following trial
• 1 Circuit Court Conviction on plea of guilty
• 1 District Court conviction on a plea of Guilty
• Gardaí also continue to develop their specialist services in this area and Divisional Protective Services Units have now been rolled out nationwide, with specially trained officers responsible for investigations, including engagement with victims.