“Society More Vigilant Against Domestic Abuse,” Police Commissioner Says

Metropolitan Police

A record number of domestic-violence incidents were reported to the police over the past two years, a new report from the Icelandic Police indicates. Victim surveys suggest that domestic violence has not increased, but victims report incidences more frequently. The National Police Commissioner calls this a “positive development.”

2,102 incidents of domestic disputes and violence in 2021

A new report on domestic violence by the Icelandic Police indicates that reports of domestic violence and domestic disputes are on the rise. Fifteen-hundred incidents were reported in 2014, compared to 2,102 in 2021.

In an interview with the radio programme Morgunútvarpið on Rás 2 this morning, National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir referred to this increase in reports as a “positive development.”

“Because during the pandemic – when social restrictions were in effect, and when kids were out of school, etc. – we feared that we would receive fewer reports and fewer calls for help. But this wasn’t the case. Child protective services were notified on multiple occasions when there was a suspicion of possible violence. So you could say that we, as a society, were vigilant, with outside parties notifying the authorities,” Sigríður Björk stated.

Sigríður suggests that over the past few years society has begun to “open its eyes” to this kind of violence. (The report also notes that police protocols were updated in 2014, which led to increased reporting.)

“Only 10 or 15 years ago, domestic violence was regarded as a private matter,” Sigríður Björk continued. “But this is deadly serious. You just have to look at homicide data: half of all homicides occur between related or associated parties.”

Sigríður Björk says that the authorities need to consider preventive measures and educational initiatives to curb domestic abuse.

“When it comes to digital abuse, for example, where you have so many young victims and abusers. Just having a web page: kids are learning (to adopt this technology) and trying on different roles. You can be involved in a situation that is abusive in nature, even though you don’t realise it. Public discourse is important, that is, that it’s not considered a private affair, which people have to deal with for years on end, even at a risk to their lives,” Sigríður Björk observed.

As noted in the report, domestic-violence incidences reported to the police increased by a third between 2015 and 2021. 80% of aggressors were male.

New Hospital Won’t Meet Bed-Demand, Report Finds

landspítali hospital

A new government report finds that the healthcare system will be significantly short of hospital beds by 2040, even with the new hospital opening on Hringbraut in Reykjavík. The Director of the new hospital hopes that the war in Ukraine won’t delay construction.

Demographic changes driving demand

On March 18, the Ministry of Health released a report on the future development of the National University Hospital of Iceland (Landspítali). The report, which was based on data from 2019, was predicated on analytical work done by the management consulting company McKinsey & Company.

Among the report’s main findings was that the need for hospital beds in Iceland is expected to rise by 80% by 2040. This need is driven mainly by demographic changes, with the average age in the country expected to increase by 9% and the total population expected to increase by 18% over the next 18 years.

Given these changes, the healthcare system would have only half of the needed hospital beds by 2040 if no significant actions were taken – even with the opening of the new hospital on Hringbraut (expected to open in 2026).

According to the report, the healthcare system can tackle the shortage by shifting long-term and primary care from Landspítali to “a more (sic) adequate healthcare setting.” The health authorities would need to create the equivalent of ca. 240 bed capacity in home-based, elderly, and rehabilitation-care facilities.

“We can’t lose any time”

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Runólfur Pálsson, Director of the National University Hospital of Iceland, responded to the report by saying that “time was of the essence.”

“Everybody is familiar with the current facilities as far as hospital beds are concerned,” Páll observed. “Personnel shortage is also a growing concern. We should have acted sooner; the preparation time required for the construction of the new hospital was way too long.”

As noted on RÚV yesterday, the current conditions at Landspítali er still difficult, even with a decline in COVID-19 cases. There is a significant shortage of hospital beds. Every day, almost 30 people must wait in the emergency ward to be admitted into the hospital.

Furthermore, illnesses among staff, whether resulting from COVID-19 or influenza, have also made operations difficult. Many employees of the hospital have also gone on sick leave owing to work-related stress.

Construction, for the most part, “on schedule”

In an interview on Friday, Gunnar Svavarsson, Director of the New University Hospital on Hringbraut, stated that the construction of the new hospital was, for the most part, on schedule. The Russian invasion of Ukraine may cause a delay, however, as the contractors can no longer import steel from Russia.

“We hope there won’t be any delays,” Gunnar said. “As it stands, it’s looking pretty good. Some areas are behind schedule and others that are ahead of schedule.”