North Kent Women’s Aid has decided to get into the spirit of the 2014 World Cup by setting up a clinic for victims of domestic violence during the tournament. Reports about the clinic cited a 2013 study published by the University of Lancashire that claimed the risk of domestic abuse rose by 26 per cent when England won or drew a match, and by 38 per cent when they lost. One police officer, quoted in the research, said ‘the World Cup appears a reason for many to party, however delight and expectation can turn into despair and conflict with the kick of a ball’.
Academic research into football and domestic violence is superfluous when you consider officialdom’s unflinching attitude to the public during the World Cup. Senior bobbies need no convincing that international football competitions are nothing more than an excuse for men to get bladdered and beat their wives. In 2012, there was widespread panic that the Euro 2012 tournament would lead to a surge in domestic violence, with police forces up and down the country commencing poster campaigns complete with alarmist slogans like ‘Winning strike – when is kick off in your house? Give your temper the red card.’ There was no spike in domestic violence during Euro 2012. In fact, 2012 represented a historic low for domestic violence, with reports of domestic violence having fallen by 18 per cent since 2005.
And that’s not the only good news. Convictions for domestic-violence offences are at an all-time high, meaning allegations are taken seriously and prosecuted when necessary. The UK’s National Crime Statistics show a long-term downward trend in domestic-violence allegations. All the signs suggest that domestic violence is falling and is treated seriously when it is alleged.
So let’s ignore the mad official panic around football and domestic violence. It says more about the police’s view of the public as beer-swilling monsters, ready for any excuse to be violent, than it does about anything based in real life.
Luke Gittos is law editor at spiked, a solicitor practicing criminal law and convenor of the London Legal Salon.