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.