This week, the Home Office launches a domestic violence awareness campaign to coincide with the 2014 World Cup.
From early June to mid-July 2014, a poster and online advertising campaign will be used to communicate important messages about the consequences of domestic violence to men aged 18 to 35.
All advertising will direct men to the Respect website and phone helpline for advice and support (0808 802 4040).
Posters will be displayed in male toilets in England and online adverts will be shown around football content during the World Cup 2014 competition.
During the last World Cup, reports to police from women who had been victims of domestic violence by their male partners rose by up to 30 per cent, according to Women’s Aid.
The Home Office’s campaign is just one of many awareness campaigns to be promoted during this summer’s World Cup. Women’s Aid, the national charity for domestic violence is working with the Premier League and BT Sport for the ‘Football United Against Domestic Violence’ campaign, which will see them work with football clubs, organisations, players and fans to help raise awareness of domestic violence and the sexist attitudes that underpin abuse against women. The campaign has been fully backed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Women’s Aid have also enlisted the support of former England No.1 goalkeeper, David James.
James said: “All forms of domestic violence are completely unacceptable, and it is shocking to think that there is a rise in reporting following England games. I wholeheartedly support the Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign, and hope that clubs get involved and work with Women’s Aid to help raise awareness with their supporters.”
The most detailed research into the links between the World Cup and domestic abuse rates has revealed that in one area in England and Wales, violence increased by 38% when England lost – and alarmingly rose by 26% when they won.
Police forces across the UK are using the research to help prevent attacks. Essex Police are putting on extra patrols during and after England’s group matches and placing intelligence teams in control rooms.
What’s more, up to 117 high-risk perpetrators will be visited at home by officers and warned not to vent their feelings on their partners. Essex police are also running a high-profile social media and advertising campaign.
Essex Police Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “These trends are well established and the worrying thing is there is an increase from tournament to tournament. We have to ask – are perpetrators becoming increasingly confident? Are we seeing intergenerational abusers?
“One of the things that we are looking at is around learned behaviour and this is causing us concern. Are there now people who have seen their parent behave in this way during tournaments who now think it is acceptable for them to do the same?
“There’s a mixture of factors that come together during a World Cup tournament; many people drink, there is the emotional stress of the game, and there is a whole issue around competitiveness and testosterone levels. Most people will watch the game and will never do anything violent but a small minority will become deeply aggressive and unpleasant.
“What we are trying to do is predict some of this. We are taking a forthright approach, we know who the high-risk perpetrators are and we are visiting them to say effectively: We know who you are, we know where you are and we know what you are capable of.
“I cannot guarantee we won’t have a tragedy during the World Cup but we are working with victims, targeting perpetrators, working with partners to share information more effectively and try to better protect victims.”
In an effort to help combat domestic violence, forces across the UK employ the services of Skyguard to issue their high-risk domestic abuse victims with personal safety devices. These small, palm sized and discrete alarms enable users to quickly call for help in the event of an incident. With GPS tracking and two way audio, which is digitally recorded for prosecution purposes, the use of these alarms are a proven deterrent as well as improving evidence-gathering to take the pressure off victims by providing independent evidence of violence.