POLICE are aiming to tackle domestic violence during this year’s World Cup.
During past tournaments, incidents of partner attacks increase on Wearside, with many men – and sometimes women – taking out their football frustrations.
The tournament begins on Thursday in Brazil with England’s first match, against Italy, on Saturday.
Police arrested 3,757 Wearsiders in 2011 and 2012 in relation to domestic violence in Sunderland.
Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is well known that there’s a tendency for incidents of domestic violence to increase during high profile sporting events, particularly as more alcohol is consumed. With this in mind, our police are using the competition to target offenders.
“We are calling this campaign Kick Off, and are launching it today and running it for the duration of the World Cup. There will be dedicated cars at each area command responding to domestic violence calls while England matches are played.
“High risk domestic violence offenders and those with links to football violence have been identified across the force area and officers will be paying special attention to them.
“An event like this, which brings the world together, should not be remembered by some for all the wrong reasons.
“Domestic and sexual abuse is a priority of my police and crime plan and an issue which people face and the police tackle on a daily basis all year round.
“It’s important that we use these high profile events to raise this issue again, ensuring people generally know that this crime continues to happen even when most people seem to be happy and enjoying themselves.”
Specialist officers, from the Protecting Vulnerable People department, will also be on duty at key times to provide an enhanced service to domestic violence victims. Domestic violence helplines will be promoted during the campaign which includes hard-hitting posters aimed at perpetrators and victims. These will be going up in places which sell alcohol, such as off licences, supermarkets, sports clubs and community centres. They will also be put in place in GP surgeries across the Sunderland area.
Assistant Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “We don’t want what should be a celebration and time for enjoyment for the country to become a fearful time for others. We want this campaign to serve as a warning to potential abusers that violence of any kind will not be tolerated, and we’ll use all the powers we have to bring them to justice.
“Victims can be assured we’re committed to providing compassionate and appropriate support, and we’d urge them to come forward so they can access the specialist support they need.”
Detective Superintendent Steve Wade added: “The specialist officers on duty are highly trained in all issues surrounding domestic violence from supporting victims through to gathering the best evidence.”