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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 06:27 GMT
Balloons released for victims
Domestic violence incident
Police received 20,000 reports of domestic abuse in the last year
Twenty thousand cases of domestic abuse were reported to Merseyside Police last year, the force has revealed.

To mark the launch of an anti-domestic violence campaign by the force, balloons were being launched across Merseyside.

Operation Goodwill - for which police have teamed up with Merseyside Domestic Violence Forums - has begun in the run up to the festive season, the time of year when domestic abuse increases "substantially".

Balloons, one for each of the 20,000 reports of domestic abuse the force has received over the last year, were set to be released in five places.

Actor Suzanne Collins, who played Nicky Shadwick in Brookside, was lending her support to the campaign, by launching balloons from Birkenhead.

'Frightening statistics'

Across the UK more than 100 women are killed by their current or former partner and in 90 per cent of cases children are in the same or adjoining room, according to police.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian McPherson said: "While this time of year is the season of goodwill it is also often a time of heightened tension within the family.

"The statistics surrounding domestic violence are frightening and very real.

"Domestic violence crosses all social boundaries and affects the lives of many people, often having a devastating impact.

"We would urge any victims to contact police so that we can help them."

'Raise awareness'

The Operation Goodwill initiative aims to:

  • Protect adults and children at risk from domestic violence

  • Bring offenders to justice

  • Encourage victims of domestic violence to report offenders to the police

  • Raise awareness to victims that help is available 24 hours a day, all year round

  • Raise awareness to victims of where they can receive help, both through the police and other agencies.

    The balloon launches - also at sites in Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Liverpool - were due to take place at 1330 GMT.

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