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Zero tolerance and increased awareness lead to spike in domestic abuse cases

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL File photo dated 09/03/15 of a shadow of a man with a clenched fist as a woman cowers in the corner, as the Ministry of Justice announced legal aid restrictions will be eased for victims of domestic violence under Government reforms. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday December 4, 2017. Changes have been announced to give more support to those taking abusive former partners to court in family proceedings. See PA story POLITICS Domestic. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Royal Gibraltar Police’s zero-tolerance policy to domestic abuse is encouraging more victims to come forward, leading to a knock-on rise in the number of cases handled by officers, Chief Superintendent Richard Mifsud has said.

Statistics in the RGP’s latest annual report show that the number of cases jumped from 189 in 2015-2016 to 236 in 2016-2017, a 25% increase year on year.

These figures offer a snapshot of the scale of the problem, although senior officers caution that statistics relating to domestic abuse will rarely be accurate, not least because many victims are still reluctant to report instances of domestic abuse.

Victims choose not to report abuse for a variety of reasons, including shame and embarrassment as well as fear. This tendency is more prominent in a small community like Gibraltar.

Even so, increased awareness is making it easier for victims to come forward.

“We are hotter on it,” Mr Mifsud said of the hike in cases.

“We like to think that it’s because we’ve created an environment where victims of domestic abuse are more comfortable coming forwards because they see that police will take robust action.”

In an interview with the Chronicle, Mr Mifsud explained that the RGP has overhauled its approach to domestic incidents in the 35 years he has served with the force.

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