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Domestic abuse call-outs 'every 19 minutes'

Lesley-Anne McKeown

POLICE were called to a domestic abuse attack almost every 20 minutes in Northern Ireland in the past year.

There were 27,931 reports of domestic violence - a jump on the previous year's figure of 27,596 - with areas including Derry, north Belfast and Craigavon among the worst affected.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland respond to one incident of domestic abuse every 19 minutes. This is a frightening statistic."

He was speaking during the launch of a new campaign aimed at highlighting the growing problem.

Derry had the highest rates of domestic abuse with 2,385 reported incidents during the 12 months between October last year and September this year.

In north Belfast police responded to 2,177 domestic call-outs while in the east of the city officers dealt with 1,504 attacks last year.

In Craigavon, Co Armagh, there was a similarly high rate of domestic violence during the same period with 1,854 reports while in Lisburn, Co Antrim, there were at least 1,559 incidents of domestic abuse.

Mr Hamilton warned that abuse levels were expected to increase over the Christmas holidays.

He appealed for victims to come forward.

"We know that domestic abuse is a frightening crime which can affect anyone, both women and men," he said.

"Very often victims are isolated. No-one should have to endure abuse and I want to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to come forward and report the matter to the police."

Posters bearing the slogan "Domestic abuse is wrong, pick up the phone and make it stop" will be distributed by police officers across Northern Ireland and disseminated online in a bid to encourage victims to report the crime.

* COURAGE: Domestic abuse survivor 'Louise' at a press conference yesterday to launch the police campaign, above

PICTURE: Hugh Russell

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