Ministry: Rising awareness increases number of domestic abuse alerts

Recently increasing awareness has led to more reports of close-relationship violence.
Recently increasing awareness has led to more reports of close-relationship violence. Source: ERR

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the number of calls to the emergency center asking police to intervene in cases of close-relationship violence has clearly increased in Estonia in recent years. Officials attribute this development to increased awareness in the population.

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) presented the government with an action plan on Friday that aims to further prevent domestic violence, including by removing the abuser from the home and improving cooperation of different authorities and state institutions.

The plan is based on insights gained during a pilot project in Pärnu, which place increased emphasis on immediately helping victims and suggest that removing the abuser is an effective way to break the continuation of violent tendencies from generation to generation.

"The close interaction of institutions, immediate help for those suffering from violence, and removing the abuser from the home are the best ways of putting an end to the continuation of violence," Veiko Kommusaar, head of the department for law enforcement and criminal policy at the ministry, said. Kommusaar added that with an approach like this, repeat as well as more severe cases can be prevented.

In practice, authorities' understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities as well as agreement on goals and the organization of work are important, the ministry said. Activities to prevent and reduce close-relationship violence are carried out by representatives of ministries, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), victim support, social and child welfare services of municipalities, specialists of women's support centers, providers of healthcare services, prosecutors, judges, probation officers, and education workers.

The ministry's action plan is to be implemented between 2019 and 2023. Domestic violence makes up a little over 10 percent of criminal offences in Estonia, with about a third involving children.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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