The Wales Violence Prevention Unit is urging people to drink less and enjoy more this weekend, following a sharp increase in violence against a person over the last bank holiday.
Between 8 and 10 May, South Wales Police recorded 375 incidents of violence against a person, a 25% increase compared to the same period last year. The weekend saw more calls placed to the police than traditionally busy periods, such as Halloween or New Year’s Eve.
Gwent Police recorded 315 incidents of violence against a person, an increase of 34% compared to the previous year’s Early Bank Holiday weekend. Gwent also received 6% more calls over the VE Day weekend, compared to the Easter Bank Holiday.
Recent data from the Public Health Wales ‘How are you doing?’ survey also indicates that people are drinking more during the current restrictions. Of the most recent survey responses (4-10 May), 14% of people who drink alcohol say they are drinking more than the previous week and towards the start of lockdown, this figure was significantly higher at 25% (13-19 April).
Jon Drake, Director, Wales Violence Prevention Unit said: “Evidence from our partners suggests that people are drinking more, and the last Bank Holiday saw a significant and concerning increase in violent incidents in South Wales.
“We believe that the only acceptable level of violence in our communities is zero and this is especially important now when our NHS is already facing significant pressure as a result of the coronavirus.
“If you do need help, the police will respond and hospitals remain open if you are injured, but I would urge everyone to consider drinking less this bank holiday – not only will you enjoy the long weekend more it will also keep you safe and may help protect our NHS.”
Rt Hon Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said: “Like the First Minister I welcome the fact that the vast majority of people have followed the rules in Wales very carefully. I’d urge everyone to do so over this Bank Holiday weekend, to ensure that we don’t lose the progress we’ve made in preventing the spread of this virus in Wales.
“Our police officers and PCSOs, like other front-line workers, live in our communities and have the same concerns about Coronavirus as all of us. Please don’t make their roles more difficult – just enjoy the Bank Holiday responsibly and sensibly, and close to home while observing the distancing rules.
“And if you need help from the police don’t hesitate to call. Protecting those who are vulnerable is the number one priority for South Wales Police. That hasn’t changed during the emergency.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: “No amount of abuse or violence is ever acceptable and drinking too much can make situations worse.
“If you are drinking too much, or have concerns about someone who is, you can contact the Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service for advice on 0333 999 3577.”
Chief Constable of Gwent Police, Pam Kelly, said: “An offence of violence against the person will never be tolerated by Gwent Police and it will always be of huge concern to see an increase of this crime at any time of the year.
“While the police do not wish to unnecessarily interfere in people’s lives, it may be that as a consequence of someone’s action though that we may need to.
“We would therefore ask our communities to be mindful of their actions.
“And to anyone who is struggling at this time, it is important to seek help through appropriate channels. Suffering in silence is never the answer.”
Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, said: “Bank Holiday weekends often see sharp increases in people attending accident and emergency departments for alcohol related problems.
“Now, more than ever it is vital that we keep precious hospital services for those who really need them. If you do get in trouble the emergency services are there to help but limiting your drinking over the Bank Holiday weekend will help support our emergency services. It will reduce the chances that you hurt yourself or others and for most people will mean that they have a more enjoyable Bank Holiday.”
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid said: “There is never an excuse or justification for violence and abuse and alcohol consumption is no exception. We must be clear that alcohol does not cause abuse, but it can exacerbate situations that are already abusive. As lockdown measures continue into another bank holiday, we are concerned for the women and children across the country who are living with abuse with less routes to safety, under the COVID 19 guidance. Although the Government is asking us all to stay at home, you are not expected to do so if you are at risk of harm. In an emergency, you can still call 999. Importantly, the Welsh Government funded Live Fear Free Helpline is operating as normal. Anyone can contact the helpline 24/7 for support and advice in English and Welsh as well as many other languages. If it is not possible to call, there is also a webchat, text and email service. For individuals who are concerned about their behaviour and their potential to harm someone, there is no excuse for abuse and support is available through the Respect helpline.”
Where to get help
Support is still available for people experiencing abuse or violence during this time. If a person is injured and requires medical attention they still can and should seek help. People experiencing violence or abuse are allowed to leave their home to escape their abuser or to ask for help.
Live Fear Free Helpline:
The Live Fear Free helpline is available 24/7 in English and Welsh, for anyone who has experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or violence against women, or are worried about a friend or relative who is experiencing any form of violence or abuse:
Call: 0808 80 10 800
Text: 078600 77333
Webchat: livefearfree.gov.walesMore Info: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free
The Respect Phoneline offers help for domestic abuse perpetrators who want to change. The phoneline is open Monday-Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Call: 0808 8024040