Croydon women’s group expecting increase in domestic abuse during World Cup

By Jas Bahia

Domestic abuse charities and womens groups in Croydon are expecting an increase in reports of violence during the World Cup, despite pre-emptive council and police efforts.

Research studying the last three World Cups shows that following England matches domestic abuse incidents spike – by 38% for a loss and 26% for a victory.

Liz Hodgman, who runs a women’s support group for victims of domestic abuse at Woodlands Children’s Centre in South Croydon, said she is anticipating a jump in the number of disclosures once England kick off against Italy on Saturday.

She said: “For the very small minority football appears to trigger some very negative and damaging behaviour and it is often the partners or loved ones that experience the sharp end of this.

“This will not be helped with the arrival of the warm weather and increased consumption for some of alcohol.”

Even without the effect of football, domestic violence is on of the the few crimes showing a yearly rise in the area, having increased 15% last year, and 13.4% in 2013.

Although some put the rise down to more people coming forward the Safer Croydon Partnership, a joint Croydon council and Met initiative is launching an anti-domestic violence campaign aimed at combatting the issue.

The two-week poster campaign will include the dissemination of pictures of high-risk offenders to CCTV operators who will alert officers of sightings during matches.

In addition the Met have been issuing warning to those with histories of domestic abuse.

Mrs Hodgman said: “Any initiative which seeks to highlight the issues around domestic abuse can only be a good thing.

“The campaign will hopefully increase public awareness and break down some of the taboos around discussing domestic abuse.

“Victims will hopefully know where to turn for support and advice and perpetrators will know that situations are being monitored.”

Many domestic violence charities were severely affected by cuts in recent years but it is hoped the borough’s year long plans, which involve helpline stickers being placed at venues such as Selhurst Park, libraries, and GPs’ surgeries, will help to raise awareness and ease pressure.

Detective Sergeant Kris Blamires of Croydon’s Community Safety Unit said: “Our approach is focused on the victim, which is why we’ll have officers out and about giving information and advice to people in the support agencies and services that can help them if they are suffering domestic abuse.”

“It is absolutely not acceptable to use the football as an excuse to abuse a partner or loved one, and we will be taking robust action against anyone who thinks otherwise.”

Photo courtesy of Joe Shlabotnik, with thanks.
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