The Wales Violence Prevention Unit are urging people to drink less and enjoy more this weekend.
Recent data from the Public Health Wales ‘How are you doing?’ survey indicates that people are drinking more during the current restrictions. Of the most recent survey responses (4-10 May), 14% of people who drink alcohol say they are drinking more than the previous week and towards the start of lockdown, this figure was significantly higher at 25% (13-19 April).
Jon Drake, Director, Wales Violence Prevention Unit said: “Evidence from our partners suggests that people are drinking more, and alcohol can aggravate potentially violent situations.
“We believe that the only acceptable level of violence in our communities is zero and this is especially important now when our NHS is already facing significant pressure as a result of the coronavirus.
“If you do need help, the police will respond and hospitals remain open, but I would urge everyone to consider drinking less this bank holiday – not only will you enjoy the long weekend more it will also keep you safe and may help protect our NHS.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, said: “I certainly support the call for people not to drink to excess over the bank holiday weekend because sadly we all know that alcohol can act as a trigger violence.
“Whenever there are acts of violence, there are victims and at particular risk are people living with abusive partners.
“Tackling domestic violence is a key priority of my Police and Crime Plan and although we are living in unprecedented times there is no excuse for domestic abuse whatever form it takes.
“The lockdown restrictions mean that those at risk are having to spend even more time with their abuser and are at even greater risk of violence and the equally abusive coercive control, all made worse if alcohol is fuelling the abusive behaviour.
“I want to reassure anyone who feels they are at risk that the police and the many excellent support services that exist to help them stand ready.
“Any people who feel they are at risk of harm to themselves and their children should seek help and support as a matter of urgency.”
Carl Foulkes, Chief Constable, North Wales Police, said: “We understand the stresses caused by the current situation and that people want to relax and enjoy the Bank Holiday.
We hope everyone has a great weekend, but we are urging people to behave responsibly and not to drink excessively.
Violence of any kind is totally unacceptable. My officers, who will be conducting high visibility patrols this weekend, will deal firmly with any incidents of violence, whether it’s alcohol induced or not.”
Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales, said: “Bank Holiday weekends often see sharp increases in people attending accident and emergency departments for alcohol related problems.
“Now, more than ever it is vital that we keep precious hospital services for those who really need them. If you do get in trouble the emergency services are there to help but limiting your drinking over the Bank Holiday weekend will help support our emergency services.
It will reduce the chances that you hurt yourself or others and for most people will mean that they have a more enjoyable Bank Holiday.”
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:“There is never an excuse or justification for violence and abuse and alcohol consumption is no exception. We must be clear that alcohol does not cause abuse, but it can exacerbate situations that are already abusive.
As lockdown measures continue into another bank holiday, we are concerned for the women and children across the country who are living with abuse with less routes to safety, under the COVID 19 guidance.
Although the Government is asking us all to stay at home, you are not expected to do so if you are at risk of harm.
In an emergency, you can still call 999. Importantly, the Welsh Government funded Live Fear Free Helpline is operating as normal. Anyone can contact the helpline 24/7 for support and advice in English and Welsh as well as many other languages.
If it is not possible to call, there is also a webchat, text and email service. For individuals who are concerned about their behaviour and their potential to harm someone, there is no excuse for abuse and support is available through the Respect helpline.”
Support is still available for people experiencing abuse or violence during this time. If a person is injured and requires medical attention they still can and should seek help. People experiencing violence or abuse are allowed to leave their home to escape their abuser or to ask for help.
If someone needs immediate help, they can dial 999 and the police will respond. If they need silent help, they can dial 999 and then dial 55 when prompted by the operator. If it is not an emergency, someone can report an incident to the police by calling 101.
Live Fear Free
Helpline: 0808 80 10 800
Text: 078600 77333