A rise in domestic abuse incidents in the county during COVID-19 has been documented while the increase in barring orders being breached has been labelled as “horrendous”.
Figures presented at Monday’s meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC) outlined that an increase in domestic abuse incidents in the county occurred during the height of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We noticed an increase in calls for domestic abuse cases during the lockdown,” Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran confirmed. He stated that Gardaí were conscious to provide a service where they made themselves available to domestic abuse victims. Breaches of barring, protection and safety orders rose by 31 percent up to 68 from January to September of this year compared with 2019 figures. 326 domestic disputes have been reported to Clare Gardaí up to September this year, an increase of 20 on the previous timeframe last year.
Speaking at the meeting, Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) felt the 31 percent increase in barring orders being breached was “horrendous” and “horrific”. She criticised Gardaí for failing to break down the figures of sexual assault by gender and said that the majority of sexual assaults were on women as opposed to men and suggested that abuse victims were more comfortable generally talking to someone of the same sex and that it can be traumatic to have to retell a story of abuse. “It is important to have a gender breakdown,” she commented.
Any individual that is found to breach a barring order is arrested and brought to court, the Chief Supt responded. He believed Gardaí in Clare were very proactive in handing such situations and referenced the callbacks completed by members of the force. “The reality is females are the main injured parties in sexual assault, we would prefer to leave figures as they are, we will have a look to see if we can do a further breakdown”.
Clare PPN representative, Madeline McAleer reminded the meeting that a request was previously issued for the data to be broken down by gender regarding sexual assaults.
“It would give a better picture on the situation which is serious,” Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) stated. “If the male numbers were there and to be seen clearly it might encourage more males suffering abuse to come forward”. The Clare TD believed more education and information on the different types of orders that can be applied for by individuals suffering domestic abuse was required.