West Yorkshire Police is reaching out to football fans ahead of the start of the World Cup urging them not to lose it all for football.
During the Euro 2016 tournament, and other major sporting events, police have seen spikes in domestic abuse incidents, particularly during key games or matches that fall on weekends.
On the day of the first England game during Euro 2016, police were called to 185 domestic abuse incidents, compared to 152 incidents the Saturday before the tournament. The day of the final match between Portugal and France there were 204 reports of domestic abuse to West Yorkshire Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “Sporting events such as the World Cup should be an opportunity to come together in celebration – or even commiseration – but they should never be a backdrop for domestic abuse.
“Unfortunately, traditionally we have generally seen an increase in reports of domestic abuse during major sporting events.
“Behind every single incident of domestic abuse is not only a victim but also an offender who is risking losing everything – and these are the people we are targeting as part of this campaign.
“For anyone who knows that they have anger issues or a controlling personality, the ball is in their court. We would urge them to seek help now to address their behaviour because if they don’t and find themselves a perpetrator of domestic abuse then it may be too late to save their relationship, their family, their career and their freedom.
“We will not tolerate domestic abuse and will take decisive action against anyone who uses physical or mental abuse to control, coerce or harm a member of their family.
“Victims should be assured that we have dedicated safeguarding teams working across the Force area who understand how difficult it can be for people to come forward and treat each and every case with the utmost sensitivity. I would encourage anyone who is living with abuse, or knows someone who could be vulnerable to seek help and support now.”
To coincide with the awareness campaign, West Yorkshire Police has been carrying out arrest operations in the build up to the tournament targeting people wanted for domestic abuse offences.
Officers from the Force’s Operations Support Department conducted a planned operation in the run up to the World Cup, arresting those wanted for domestic violence offences. In total 247 people have been arrested between 29th May and 3rd June, as a result of both the operation and responses to calls for service.
Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “For football fans this is a very special time and emotions can run high, however, there are no excuses or justifications for being violent or abusive. Domestic abuse and domestic violence are completely unacceptable and it’s something no-one should have to live with at any time.
“It’s vital that victims know that it’s never their fault and that they do not have to put up with it. I urge any victims to report these incidents whether that is to West Yorkshire Police or another agency - then we can make sure everybody gets the help they need. Likewise help is available to be offenders who recognise and want to change their behaviour.”
For more information about support available for both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse please visit: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/WorldCup18