THE PSNI says it received more than 3,000 calls for help from people in relation to domestic abuse incidents over the Christmas period.
Police also received nearly 1,800 reports of domestic crimes during the festive period.
The increase is in part blamed blamed on the introduction of records on harassment and malicious communications.
On Christmas day there was almost 100 reports of domestic abuse and on New Year’s Day there was 187 – a figure the police described as “staggering”.
The PSNI released the figures after a campaign, which ran from December 16 until January 15, encouraging victims of domestic abuse to make a report.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “We know domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas, that it happens all year round but, sadly, historically figures show over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise.
“From December 15 2019 until January 16 this year, we received 3,036 calls for help in relation to domestic abuse incidents compared to 3,114 from the same the previous year. That is a decrease of 78 incidents.
“During this same period however, we received 1,782 reports of domestic crimes, an increase of 208 from the 1,574 we received over the same period the year before.”
Ms Hilman said the increase in report of domestic crimes was attributable to the recording of higher numbers of harassment and malicious communication offences.
This is as a result of a Home Office change introduced in April 2019 requiring harassment to be recorded in addition to the most serious additional victim based offence.
However, reports of violence against the person which resulted in injury decreased.
On Christmas Day the PSNI received 96 reports of domestic abuse incidents, a decrease of 20 calls from the previous Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day police received an additional 29 calls on the previous year with 187 reports made.
“These figures tell us more victims are finding the courage to pick up the phone and make a report, which is encouraging, but we must always remember behind each statistic is a victim,” Ms Hilman said.
“Domestic abuse is a terrifying crime, which can have a long lasting impact and it can affect anyone, and often leaves victims feeling isolated and alone.
“We know that victims, both male and female and of all ages, may have suffered abuse many times before calling the police or contacting other agencies for assistance.”
The senior officer said that many incidents of domestic abuse continue to go unreported.
“We hope these stark figures issued today will encourage anyone impacted by domestic abuse to report it to us,” she added.
“It is our job to keep people safe. I want to make a direct appeal to anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse, or anyone who knows of any incident of domestic abuse to pick up the phone and tell us so we can make it stop.
“Please call us on 101 or if it’s an emergency always call 999.”
Anyone affected by domestic abuse can call a 24-hour domestic and sexual abuse helpline on 0808 802 1414.