Calgary, AB,

Calgary saw domestic violence rise in 2015

Domestic violence is on the rise in Calgary, likely because of the economic challenges facing families.

Police received 303 more domestic violence calls in 2015 than in 2014, which amounts to a 10 per cent increase in just one year and a 24 per cent increase over the five-year average. More shockingly, domestic assaults involving weapons increased by 70 per cent over 2014, showing that not only is the amount of violence increasing but the level of violence is increasing as well.

“Domestic violence is a very real problem in our community and it crosses all neighbourhoods, age groups, ethnicities, religions and economic statuses,” say Staff Sergeant Rob Davidson with the Calgary Police Service Domestic Conflict Unit. “We know there is a connection between increased unemployment and increased domestic violence as people who are already prone to violence are home more and are facing significant stressors – and that is likely what we are seeing in Calgary.”

In total, police recieved 18,993 domestic conflict calls last year, a 10 per cent increase over the five-year average. The vast majority – approximately 14,678 (77 per cent) – of these calls are verbal altercations that escalated to the point that police were called, or situations where one party has asked police to be present while they moved out of their home due to domestic conflict.

Approximately 3,282 (17 per cent) domestic conflict calls were classified as domestic violence because they involved some form of physical violence and approximately 733 (4 per cent) involved the damage or theft of property as part of a domestic conflict. There were also approximately 300 (2 per cent) domestic conflict calls that involved other various criminal offences.

While the vast majority of domestic conflict victims were women, approximately one in five were men.

Indications from the first quarter of this year show that 2016 is not likely to be any better. Police recieved approximately 40 per cent more domestic violence calls in the first three months of this year than is typical. Total domestic conflict calls are also up approximately 6 per cent from the average.

The Calgary Police Service has 34 police officers and four civilian staff working in the Domestic Conflict Unit. The team works closely with partner agencies to intervene in families experiencing frequent domestic conflict, investigate cases of domestic violence, prevent further domestic violence from habitual offenders and intervene in situations of elder abuse.

Officers in this unit, alongside partner agencies, work directly with approximately 2,400 families each year.

The Calgary Police Service always encourages anyone that is experiencing abuse or violence in an intimate relationship to reach out for help. There are countless agencies ready to offer support that can be contacted simply by calling Connect Family & Sexual Abuse Network at 403 -237-5888 (Toll Free: 1-877-237-5888), the 24-hour Family Violence Helpline at 403-234-SAFE (7233), or 211.

Victims of domestic violence can also contact the Calgary Police Service anytime by calling the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 if they are in immediate danger.