BODY cameras will be used by police during England’s first three World Cup matches to identify wife-beaters taking their football frustrations out on their partners.
Sunderland is leading the way on tackling the problem after the city became the first in the country to identify a rise in attacks during the tournament.
Officers in Washington will be wearing the cameras and working with domestic abuse workers from Wearside Women in Need, going out on special patrols during the games, starting with England’s match against Italy tomorrow night.
The same initiative ran as a pilot scheme in Washington, where the team attended domestic violence incidents on a Friday and Saturday night in Concord and Sulgrave.
Now permission has been given to extend the scheme during the first three England games on Saturday; against Uruguay on Thursday, June 19; and during the Costa Rica game on Tuesday, June 24.
During 2011 and 2012, 3,757 arrests have been made by police investigating domestic violence in Sunderland. The figures rose from 1,822 in 2011 to 1,935 in 2012.
Superintendent Alan Veitch, from Sunderland Area Command, said: “We have a long established relationship with Wearside Women in Need and our recent pilot scheme proved so successful, we wanted to extend it to cover England games.
“Tackling domestic violence is a priority for us as a force and we’re committed to targeting and apprehending offenders so they can be put before the court. The needs and welfare of those suffering domestic violence is also a priority.
“We want to give victims the courage and encouragement to talk to us and hope by having someone from Wearside Women in Need responding to these incidents, they feel more at ease making a report to us.”
Police say they are prepared for any spike in the attacks which often happen in the hours following the games.
Councillor Harry Trueman, chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “We take the national issue of increased risk of domestic violence and abuse during the World Cup very seriously in our city.
“Posters and leaflets being distributed throughout city will contain the contact details of referral and advice services, including the Wearside Women in Need 24 hour helpline number available throughout the year.
“On England match days, police officers called to any incident will be accompanied by specialist domestic abuse workers, and there will be increased patrols in any areas where problems with domestic violence and abuse have been identified.
“We hope this campaign will reassure victims and families that help is available, encourage them to come forward to report any problems, and warn possible perpetrators that we are equipped and ready to take immediate action against them.”
Claire Phillipson, from Wearside Women In Need, said: “Sunderland was the first city in the country to identify the increased risk of domestic abuse during World Cup tournaments, and has helped lead the way in adopting an pro-active approach to tackling what is a national concern.
“Emotions can run high but there is no excuse and we want to make it clear to all that this type of criminal and anti-social behaviour will never be tolerated.”