Police warn over domestic abuse during Euros

By Barrie Hudson - 10 June 2024

CommunityCrime

A warning to domestic abuse perpetrators has been issued by Wiltshire Police ahead of the Euros.

The message is stark - no matter who you follow though and how well or badly, your country performs, taking out your frustrations or emotions on those around will not be tolerated.

The force says that for many people, watching matches, having a drink and cheering on the team will only ever mean just that - but some people will be in fear of violence and of anger, both when out and at home.

Wiltshire Police recognises that football doesn't cause domestic abuse, but says it does know that it can create more opportunities for people to enjoy an increase amount of alcohol, which can lead to an increase in domestic abuse.

The risk can be more severe around key matches and the police are asking friends and family of potential domestic abuse victims to look out for them.

Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Thorne, lead for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in Wiltshire Police said: “Football brings people together in their desire to see their team succeed. But sadly, what’s often unseen and away from the pitch, is the increase of domestic abuse offences that are reported during football tournaments.

“I want to be really clear; domestic abuse is a force wide priority all year-round but sadly we do know that there is an increase in domestic incidents during major football tournaments.

“We want everyone to enjoy the football, but we will not stand by while people are abused at home or while out for the night and all too often we see a passion for football turn to aggression towards the mainly women and girls in their lives.”

“As a police force, we focus on domestic abuse all year round but football tournaments like the Euros are always a time to amplify that focus and harder on our perpetrators.

“These are the times when we see a tangible spike and we are ready to act.”

Wiltshire Police anticipate that licensed premises across the county will be very busy during this time and keeping people safe in the night-time economy (NTE) and managing domestic abuse incidents are key focus areas. There will be additional officers patrolling busy NTE hotspots to take swift action against those looking to cause harm or nuisance.

Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson said: “The Euro’s should be an opportunity for us to all come together and support our team, however reports of domestic abuse and violence in the UK surge during major football competitions – with research also showing it’s often fuelled by excessive alcohol consumption.

“Specialist support is available to perpetrators to break the cycle of abuse and change their behaviour before they cause further harm, as well as the victim support services commissioned by my office to support those affected by domestic abuse.

“This support can be accessed without having to make a report to the police, and if you're worried about a colleague, friend or loved one you are able to seek advice on their behalf.”

Fearfree work with victims of domestic abuse and perpetrators. Claire Marshall, CEO said: "The Euros are a fantastic opportunity for families to have fun together,  but sadly for some there is an increased risk of violence and abuse. There is no excuse for abuse, if your behaviour is harming your loved ones, get help to change.

"Our Behaviour Change courses are free, non-judgemental and you can choose from options including men or women only courses or a course for the Armed Forces community.  We know it is hard to ask for help, but it is a crucial step towards keeping your family safe."

Further advice and help is available from several organistions:

Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service offer free and confidential advice via their 24-hour helpline to anyone living in the Swindon area - 01793 610 610 24-Hour Domestic Abuse Helpline Swindon - Confidential Support Services (swadomesticabuse.org)

Fearfree is on 01225 775276 or if out of hours call 01225 712880 Monday to Friday between 5pm to 8am and available 24 hours at the weekend. People can find more at FearFree - Local Support for Domestic Abuse

Fearfree Help to Change for perpetrators - Email – [email protected] / 01225 775 276 / www.fearfree.org.uk/helptochange

Refuge: 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line: for male domestic abuse survivors is on 0808 801 0327 (run by Respect)

The Mix; free information and support for under 25s in the UK: 0808 808 4994

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5423 (run by Galop)

Live Free from Fear Helpline: 0808 8010 800 (run by Welsh Women’s Aid this helpline supports men and women and provides support in English and Welsh)

Samaritans (24/7 service): 116 123

Open to Change Healthy Relationship Programme, its run by Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Services -  01793864984 or [email protected]

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