First regional centre for victims of domestic and gender-based violence opens in Santa Lucia

The centre is intended to offer a more welcoming environment than that currently available at the Police HQ in Floriana and will be manned around the clock by officers, risk-assessors and related professionals 

Photo: DOI - Pierre Sammut
Photo: DOI - Pierre Sammut

Malta’s first regional centre for victims of domestic and gender-based violence officially opened its doors on Satuday.

The newly-opened centre in Dawret it-Torri, Santa Lucia, will be open twenty-four hours a day, every day, all year round and will offer several types of professional support and assistance services to victims of domestic violence.

The Police Force’s Gender Based and Domestic Violence Unit was established in November 2020 and is made up of specially-trained officers, working together with other professionals to assist victims of domestic violence or other gender-based violence. In an official statement issued on Saturday, the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality said that the newly-opened hub will be open every day, continuously manned by the police, assisted by risk-assessors and other professionals. 

The centre is intended to offer a better and more welcoming environment than that currently available at the Police HQ in Floriana and will allow victims to give their accounts safely, out of the presence of aggressors. 

Minister Byron Camilleri, visiting Santa Lucija together with Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg was briefed on the procedures that are in place to deal with reports of domestic violence.A number of activists and professionals in related sector, among them Prof. Marceline Naudi were also in attendance, as was Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà. 

Minister Camilleri said that in the last three years there has been work focused on victims of domestic violence so much so that apart from tripling the human resources in the domestic violence and gender-based violence section of the Police Force, work was done with other stakeholders to open the first hub for victims of domestic violence.

Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg said that the problem of domestic violence requires collective action from various entities. She added that this hub is an example of the synergy that exists between the Commissioner on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence, the police and the foundation for social welfare services among others. She said that in the fight against domestic violence, a healing work is being done by the inter-ministerial committee especially in the implementation of the measures listed in the national strategy against domestic violence which was launched last year.

In his address to the attendees, the Police Commissioner said that the growing number of domestic violence reports was proof of the growing awareness around this issue and praised the empathy and quality of the service that was now available to victims.

The police advise that until a similar centre, planned for the North of the islands, is operational, incidents of domestic violence can still be reported to the domestic and gender-based violence section at the Police Headquarters in Floriana.