A POLICE chief has warned that domestic violence remains one of society’s “unspoken taboos” with even his own officers being victims of attacks at the hands of their partners.
Police forces across Yorkshire have launched a crackdown on domestic violence in anticipation of a major surge in harrowing assaults this Christmas as the struggling economy ramps up more pressure than ever on families.
And the officer responsible for countering violent crime in South Yorkshire has admitted he has had colleagues who have come forward to reveal they had suffer domestic violence themselves.
Supt Peter Norman, the force’s violent crime lead, said: “Traditionally we see a huge increase in the number of domestic violence incidents reported to police at this time of year.
“Domestic violence affects everybody, it’s in every single community and it’s one of those unspoken taboos.
“It is made worse in these particular times as people are short of money and families are even more stressed than normal. People are under incredible pressure.
“Very recently I’m aware of both male and female police officers who have got abusive partners.
“It is across all different occupations and all different social spectrums. Police officers in the force have asked for help, support and guidance about it.”
A series of campaigns have been launched across the region in a bid to encourage victims to report abuse, as well as seek vital support from local charities and organisations, as staffing levels are stepped up over Christmas.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post have revealed that last year there were almost 2,000 arrests for domestic violence incidents in December alone, with West Yorkshire emerging as the region’s blackspot with 945.
And this year it is set to rise as the country gears up for a double dip recession and financial burdens grow increasingly heavy.
North Yorkshire Police’s domestic violence co-ordinator, Joanne Beilby, who is based at York, said: “We get more reports in December but we think January is actually busier.
“We find our highest risk cases are in January. That’s because victims choose to stay because of their children during December and decide to leave after the Christmas period.
“Alcohol is a major factor at this time of year as people who normally don’t go out and drink go out. Also the current economic and financial pressures on people will have a strain on relationships – it may be people that have lost jobs. There are huge social pressures on families this year.
“Over the year an increasing amount of domestic related incidents have occurred, which probably would not have been known prior to the economic downturn. Incidents are occurring where a relationship has broken down, not necessarily due to domestic abuse and they are forced to continue living together due to financial reasons.”
South Yorkshire Police, which made 387 arrests over domestic violence incidents in December 2010, launched its Don’t Suffer in Silence campaign today.
Part of the force’s month-long Shaken and Slurred initiative, the campaign is aimed at encouraging victims to report domestic violence to a dedicated team of officers.
After making 945 arrests last December, West Yorkshire Police, which deals with one domestic violence incident every 15 minutes, has launched its domestic violence campaign, which issues a stark warning to offenders that they will be tracked down and arrested.
In North Yorkshire, the force’s campaign sees officers and local agencies working together this Christmas in tackling the increase in domestic abuse. Last December there were 210 arrests in connection with domestic violence in the county.
Humberside Police made around 353 arrests last year. However, it is not running a campaign.