How Hampshire police are combatting domestic violence during this summer's World Cup
Today one of the biggest sporting events in the world begins with millions of people ready to support their national sides for the World Cup.
But behind closed doors, some people face abuse and violence during the tournament, with research showing crimes of this type increase in the UK.
Hampshire police has decided to be proactive in response to this data and has received funding for a team of five double-crews to respond solely to domestic abuse calls.
It comes after criminologist Dr Stuart Kirby, from Lancaster University, conducted a study which showed that domestic abuse rose after England games in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
In one area, violent incidents rose by 38 per cent when England lost, but also rose by 26 per cent when they won.
The report noted several reasons for the rise including an increase in alcohol consumption and people coming together and being in a closer proximity to others.
It also says: ‘The prestigious tournament does concentrate the risk factors into a short and volatile period, thereby intensifying the concepts of masculinity, rivalry and aggression.’
Chief inspector Mike Haines says: ‘A football tournament is something that many enjoy and get behind.
‘It is never an excuse for that to lead to drinking alcohol, getting drunk and abusing people whether in the home or elsewhere.’
One woman who was a victim of domestic abuse said she saw a change in her partner during sporting events like the World Cup.
The 29-year-old, from the Portsmouth area, says: ‘In my experience, anything that was centred around bravado, drinking or showing off with friends he would come back and be a completely different person.’
The woman, who fled her partner after getting support from agencies, welcomed Hampshire Constabulary’s operation.
She added: ‘It is really refreshing and great to hear the police are going to be active and someone you can trust. When you are in that situation, you feel like everyone is against you and your voice is not heard.
‘This operation shows the victims’ voices will be heard.
‘To know the establishment is going to be extra vigilant will have an effect.
‘Although it won’t stop all perpetrators, it could stop those who are thinking about being abusive. If they know the police will be there, putting extra officers on the streets to catch them then it could have an impact.’
As well as responding to initial calls Hampshire police will use their domestic abuse champions to offer long-term support. They will spend time with the victims to ensure they have the help they need and will signpost them to other agencies.
The woman said: ‘In my experience, it was that kind of support that let me feel confident and looked after enough to leave the situation I was in. If we know that support is out there, the likelihood of you staying is reduced.’
The woman was given help by the Southern Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS) and said they were incredible in offering support.
Claire Lambon, its chief executive, praised the operation but said they expected to see a rise in incidents.
She adds: ‘We are concerned the forthcoming competition could see the highest ever World Cup-related rises in domestic abuse in our communities.
‘SDAS have plans in place to deal with an increase in demand for our services and I would urge anybody affected by domestic abuse whether football-related or not to contact SDAS for help and support.’
Ch Ins Haines said his officers would be ‘leaving no stone unturned’ when dealing with these cases: ‘They will be following up afterwards and ensuring there is safeguarding for the victims and their families,’ he says.
‘We will look at signposting them to partner agencies too.
‘We hope these efforts will increase our domestic convictions and help the victims change their lives.’