World Cup fears after spike in Euros domestic abuse

The World Cup could see domestic abuse incidents soar following a spike in reports during last year’s Euro 2020, campaigners have warned.

Freedom of Information responses obtained by SWL, reveal the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to the Metropolitan Police rose by more than 14% during the European football championship.

The tournaments also saw a spike in the number of offences, with officers recording a total of 8,664 crimes last year, up 10% from 2019.

Meanwhile, across the UK, 26 police forces logged 96,473 domestic abuse reports, an increase of almost 10% from the 87,778 cases recorded the month before.

A trustee of Sutton Women’s Centre, Susan Calthorpe, said: “There is a link between increased consumption of alcohol and increased levels of domestic abuse, but it’s only one of the factors that exacerbates troubled relationships.

“People may well be in close proximity with each other for longer, they might be disrupting their partner’s usual time, space, routine – so they might use domestic abuse as the way they cope for a whole range of reasons.

“Occasions like the World Cup can bring all those factors to the fore which is why we see increasing numbers around that time.”

Source: Freedom of Information request submitted to the Metropolitan Police.

Although football matches do not cause domestic abuse, research shows there are links between a team’s wins and defeats, and an abuser’s preexisting patterns of behaviour.

A 2013 study by Lancaster University found abuse rose by 26% when England won or drew a match, and by 38% when they lost.

According to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV), the figures could be the “tip of the iceberg”, as it often takes time for victims to come forward.

Sharon Bryan, Head of Partnerships and Development at NCDV, told SWL: “We can raise awareness of this phenomenon by making sure people know and understand the link between football and domestic abuse.” 

The number of referrals for protective court orders also increased during the tournament, with NCDV receiving more than 400 new referrals compared to the five-week period before – a rise of 5%.

Sharing her own story of domestic abuse, Ms Bryan said football was a trigger for her former husband. 

“If his team lost he would throw the remote control at the television and rage about it. When he went to big games, especially his own team games, he would do the same thing. 

“I used to be terrified. I was afraid of him all the time anyway, especially as time went on and the abuse got worse.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics estimates 1.6 million women and 786,000 men were subject to do- mestic abuse in the 12 months ending March 2019

For more information on domestic abuse, including how to get legal help for yourself or a family member contact NCDV on 0800 970 2070 or text on 60777.

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