Paphos domestic violence unit is understaffed which makes it difficult to intervene in cases of abuse within families, it emerged after a meeting between Akel-affiliated women’s organisation Pogo and the police on Tuesday.

As part of the discussion, police provided an update on the new statistics on cases handled by the domestic violence unit, which, according to the women’s group, showed that perpetrators should not be profiled based on their origin.

The meeting also identified problems faced by the service which make it difficult for it to intervene in cases of violence. These include understaffing and the timely disposal of cases before the court, Pogo said.

Police understaffing has been a long-standing issue in recent years, with media reporting there are over 650 unfilled positions in the force.

Despite this, in 2021, the Paphos unit investigated 233 cases made by 259 complainants against 247 people. During that period, officers proceeded with 109 arrests.

Pogo highlighted how the annual data for that year demonstrates that origin, ethnicity and religion cannot profile the perpetrator in relation to domestic violence, as the number of Cypriot defendants exceeds the number of foreign defendants.

As regards 2022 as of August 5, the unit investigated 152 complaints by 160 complainants against 152 people. In total, 60 people were arrested in the district for domestic violence related cases.

Pogo said that out of 152 people accused, 88 were foreigners and 64 were Cypriots.

Pogo’s delegation consisted of general secretary Skevi Koukouma, Paphos district secretary Eleni Hadjiantona and member of the general council Maria Ioannidou who met with Paphos CID chief Michalis Nicolaou and head of the domestic violence unit Maria Kazantzis.

Koukouma noted the effective treatment and management of gender and domestic violence issues is a priority for the organisation and demanded the full implementation of the existing legislation. This includes the proper functioning of the special police office for the handling of violence in the family, the need for further awareness raising and training of police officers so that they are familiar with the current trends in violence issues and at the same time to be able to apply targeted measures to deal with the issue.

Pogo added that there is a need to further amend the existing legislation passed in April 2021 to cover aspects that were mentioned but “the government did not have the political will to include them in the legislation”.