July 12, 2018 / 6:25 PM / 8 months ago

England's World Cup run sparks domestic violence surge in UK: helpline

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Domestic violence cases in Britain have surged during the World Cup and England’s defeat in the semi-finals is likely to trigger another spike in beatings, a leading organization that helps women to escape abuse said on Thursday.

The number of victims referred by police in Britain to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has risen by a fifth this month as England’s football team enjoyed their best World Cup run in 28 years before losing to Croatia on Wednesday.

The NCDV - which helps battered or threatened women obtain court orders to escape abusive partners - said it had received at least 3,500 reports of domestic violence so far in July - about 600 more complaints than it would expect on average.

Police and activists in Britain last month issued warnings over domestic violence ahead of England’s first World Cup match, with evidence showing abuse levels spike when the team plays.

“After last night’s defeat, I feel sure we are going to see an extra amount of people coming through in the next few days,” the NCDV’s head Mark Groves told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“For a significant increase like that (in domestic violence referrals), there must be something significant happening and the only significant thing happening is losing in the football.”

The most detailed research into the links between the World Cup and domestic abuse found that violent incidents in Lancashire in northeast England increased by 38 percent when the national team lost a match, and by 26 percent when they won.

Lancaster University criminologist Dr Stuart Kirby, a former police officer, monitored police reports of domestic violence during the previous three World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said there had been 103 arrests and 344 football-related incidents recorded on Wednesday night, including 57 reports of domestic abuse.

England fans were captured starting mass public brawls and throwing bottles at people in the streets after the national team’s defeat to Croatia in footage shared on social media.

The NPCC has recorded nearly 300 incidents of domestic abuse since the World Cup began on June 14, according to Roberts.

“This is incredibly disappointing to see, and is in stark comparison to Russia, where the fans have conducted themselves brilliantly,” Roberts told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

However, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police in northern England said their research had found no correlation between major sporting losses and spikes in domestic violence.

Reporting By Sonia Elks, Editing By Kieran Guilbert Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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