Like it or not you cannot fail to have noticed that the World Cup has started. In the lead up to the World Cup many police forces have mounted a campaign to target repeat domestic violence offenders and to warn them about the likely consequences of their behaviour during the World Cup season.
For those who work in the domestic violence sector it will come as no surprise to find out that of the 117 repeat offenders targeted 110 of these were men. Male violence against women is far more likely to be repeat behaviour and more likely to cause real fear in the victim and be coercively controlling. The statistics for domestic violence are bad enough in normal circumstances however during the World Cup domestic violence rises on average by 30%. The police and other agencies are prepared for this – this is a fact that has been known for some time as statistics also show that the rate of domestic violence is increasing during each consecutive World Cup competition. Domestic violence rises dramatically not only when England lose a football match in the World Cup but even when they win.
During the last World Cup in one area domestic violence increased by 38% when England lost but also by 26% when they won. On the day that England were knocked out of the World Cup by Germany in the last competition domestic violence increased by a shocking 43%.
Football and alcohol certainly do not cause domestic violence, domestic violence is about power and control and alcohol just gives some people an excuse to do it. Most of us are able to watch the football and have a drink without being abusive to our partners. None the less these figures are terrifying and whilst the campaigns highlighting the issue are helpful at the same time the Government and Local Authorities are slashing funding for domestic violence services throughout the UK which is putting victims of domestic violence and their children at risk.
Women’s Aid recorded that during one day in 2013 155 women and 103 children were turned away from refuges due to lack of spaces. The Government cannot claim to be taking domestic violence seriously on the one hand when the most basic service of refuge accommodation and support for victims is so drastically under funded. This is a complete false economy as any “savings” made by slashing funding will simply be paid out multiple times over in other ways such as additional of the police, NHS, social services, benefits, CPS, Courts and lawyers not to mention the cost to industry of victims requiring time off due to domestic violence. The estimated total cost of domestic violence is thought to be in the region of 23 billion pounds per annum. Putting money into domestic violence services would therefore save the Government money as well save the lives of countless victims and children.
In addition to this a specific offence to deal with coercive control would mean that the police were able to tackle emotional abuse and coercive control rather than wait until the abuse becomes physical and the victim is in A&E. So if the government really is serious about tackling domestic violence it needs to do much more.