The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) says it has not received a higher level of calls than usual related to close relationship violence and has seen a fall compared to last year. However, the repercussions of the current coronavirus situation may reveal themselves at a later point.
Between March 1 and 17 this year, the PPA received 587 calls related to close relationship violence, compared with 558 over the same period last year, spokespeople for the Police and Border Guard Board said on Wednesday.
Overall reports of cases of close relationship violence numbered 787 over the same period; in 187 of these cases, a criminal proceeding was opened. The respective figures for March 1-17 last year were 801 and 214.
Kati Arumäe, PPA lead law enforcement official for prevention and offense proceedings said the authority is responding to close relationship violence cases in the ongoing emergency situation just as it had before. When information is received that someone's life or well-being might be in danger, a police patrol will respond to it come what may, she said.
The current concern is that with so many people having to self-quarantine in close quarters, domestic violence incidents might increase.
"The experience of other countries shows that cases of violence between people in a close relationship become more frequent during periods of isolation. The PPA so far has not received more calls than usual related to close relationship violence in recent weeks in Estonia, but the impact of the current situation may become clear later. The PPA will be ready to respond equally if the number of cases grows," Arumäe said.
Arumäe urged members of the public to immediately contact the emergency line (112) if a case of violence occurs.
Fraudsters on the move
Head of the office for prevention and offense proceedings at the PPA, Heiko Mihkelson, said that as things stand, no significant changes in the numbers of offenses registered by the police have been observed that could be have been caused by the emergency situation declared last week, though would-be fraudsters had been trying to take advantage of the situation.
"Unlike the case at the time before the emergency situation was declared, the PPA has received information about individual potential cases of phone fraud, where coronavirus is used as a pretext to cheat people out of their money. However, people in Estonia have not let themselves fall victim to this yet, as far as we know," Mihkelson said.
Mihkelson said the police keep charting potential threats to head off an increase in offenses, which could include violations of restrictions on movement (for instance traveling from the mainland to most of the western islands – only permitted to island residents under the new regime-ed.), misinformation, alcohol consumption and abuse of mandatory leave.
"We have also now charted all potential threats related to mandatory leave and restrictions on movement, such as disseminating of fake news, violations of public order, and potential violence arising from the consumption of alcohol," Mihkelson said.
Mihkelson also urged all to observe the recommendations from the Health Board (Terviseamet), avoid crowded places and stay home where at all possible.
One of the most recent government measures in the wake of the pandemic was to ban alcohol sales from 10 p.m. onwards, to 10 a.m. While these hours were already in place in stores, the new measures include pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants.
Editor: Andrew Whyte