Covid cited as contributory factor
Domestic abuse reports in Mayo have risen by 22 percent this year.
Gardaí in the county have received 862 domestic abuse reports so far this year, up until Sunday night last. That is compared to 705 reports for the corresponding period in 2020.
“Covid would appear to have been a significant contributor to these cases,” Claremorris-based Supt Gabriel Moran told The Mayo News.
“You had more people working from home, and many previous outlets for people getting out of the house were gone, so people were on top of each other more and nerves and tempers fray,” he said.
“Last year An Garda Siochána rolled out Operation Faoiseamh [‘faoiseamh’ means ‘relief’], which was a national operation aimed at supporting victims of domestic abuse who were particularly restricted because of the Covid lockdown.
“People might not have been able to get out and about as much as normal. The travel limits had an impact, schools being closed meant the school run outlet was gone, all of these things were factors.
“So what we did is that in addition to the call back everyone got in such situations, we committed to more call backs,” he added.
‘Out in the open’
Supt Moran was speaking after last Friday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting, during which he discussed the rise in cases. He said that in the ‘vast majority’ of cases, a criminal offence may not have taken place but there may be enough grounds for a safety order, a protective order, a barring order or, for repeated instances, an offence under new coercive-control legislation.
He added that the cases were not just limited to arguments between married couples but also included arguments between parents and children, between siblings and between partners.
He praised the role that the newly established Mayo Garda Divisional Protective Services Unit plays with more serious cases, and he also praised those who made reports, as well as gardaí and women’s refuge workers for their response.
“We always seek to call back domestic-abuse victims within seven days. It is a big focus for An Garda Síochána.
“For many years, victims didn’t talk about domestic abuse but now, thankfully, it is out in the open much more,” he said.
He said the Christmas period was often a particularly busy time for domestic-abuse reports.
“If people are feeling unsafe, call us in An Garda Síochána, and we will be there. Ring the Women’s refuge [Mayo Women’s Support Services]. Avail of the supports that are there,” Supt Gabriel Moran said.
Speaking at the JPC meeting, he said the gardaí work closely with the women’s refuge services.
“We work with victims, and I must commend the work of the women’s refuge and the work that they do right across the area, the massive support they give to people, right across the year.
“I know their colleagues in Galway have taken quite a number of people at different times when the Mayo refuge was full. They do huge work and a huge amount of outreach work as well, and I want to commend that.
Chief Supt Ray McMahon echoed those comments.
“Domestic violence is something we take very seriously; we will follow up on reports that we receive. We do have strict policies in relation to that. We do take it seriously, and that’s evidenced by the evolution of our Protected Services Unit, who are specifically tasked with following up more serious aspects,” he said.
Mayo Women’s Support Services can be contacted on 094 9025409, 094 9027519 or 087 6569672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.mwss.ie. The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline is 1800 341 900.