A domestic violence unit within the Famagusta police headquarters has launched operations, a police spokesman said.

Domestic violence and violence against women and other vulnerable groups is a priority for the police, spokesman Andreas Constantinou told the Cyprus News Agency.

“The police would like to reiterate their determination to contribute to the elimination of this unacceptable phenomenon, in the context of our own role and mission,” he said.

Constantinou explained that in light of recent complaints regarding incidents of domestic violence, the police decided to launch units equipped to handle such cases in all districts.

“With their specialised personnel, these units will be able to respond immediately to local cases and manage them swiftly, taking all the necessary measures for the safety, protection and support of the victims” Constantinou said.

Operating as part of the CID, the domestic violence unit will serve the whole of the Famagusta district. It is made up of seven members who have been selected according to their training and experience of handling similar cases in the past.

According to Constantinou, reports of domestic violence made all over Cyprus rose from 1028 in 2018, to 1288 in 2019 and 1733 in 2020.

In Famagusta specifically, 174 were made in 2019 and 199 in 2020, “a sizeable increase”. A small number of serious cases have been thoroughly investigated in collaboration with police headquarters and the law office of the republic, Constantinou added.

Asked whether the creation of this unit will help preserve confidentiality and discretion for those wishing to report a case, Constantinou said that the goal is for the public to be able to make these complaints without fear. “These cases are always handled with confidentiality, as the police’s goal is always to protect the victims,” he said.

Mentioning the recent murders in Ergates, the police spokesman said that anyone may contact the police if they suspect there might be domestic violence in a relative’s or neighbour’s home, stressing that the public’s help can be proven valuable in such cases.

“It is important for the public to realise that such offences are reprehensible” he said, adding that any help can help facilitate the specialised units’ work.

Finally, Constantinou said that reports may be submitted to local domestic violence units, or by calling the Citizens’ Communication Line at 1460, the domestic violence and child abuse office at 22804402 or any other relevant service or agency.

For Famagusta specifically, the domestic violence unit may be reached through CID at 23803080, 23803040, or through local police stations.