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Use Your Brain Not Your Fists Campaign (19/7/18)

Gardaí Appeal to Young Males to "Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” to Reduce Assaults

• An Garda Síochána seeks to reduce assaults through targeted action
• 2017 has seen the highest number of assaults since 2008
• Minor assault accounts for the bulk of assault incidents (75% in 2017)
• Early hours of Sunday morning are peak times for assaults at non-residential locations
• Assaults linked to the night time economy up 1% between 2016 and 2017
• 87% of offenders in assault causing harm cases are male; 53% are males aged between 18 and 34 years
• 76% of offenders in minor assaults are male; 34% are males aged between 18 and 34 years
• Low level of repeat victimisation (3%) for non-residential assault
• Higher level of repeat offenders (25%)

An Garda Síochána have appealed to young males to "Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” and think of the consequences for themselves and others of being involved in assaults. According to the Garda Síochána Analysis Service (GSAS), 2017 has seen the highest number of assaults since 2008.

According to the GSAS, the majority of assaults are carried out by males aged between 18 and 34 against males of a similar age. These assaults typically take place in and around public places (street, roads, pubs and hotels) between 8pm and 5am at the weekend, peaking early Sunday morning.

International research has shown that the level of assaults can be associated with the vibrancy of the night time economy, which has shown signs of recovery in this country following the recession. 
The total number of assaults decreased year on year between 2008 and 2013, but since then it has increased – last year saw the highest number of assaults since 2008. Assault levels to date this year are on par with 2017 levels.
As a proportion of all assaults, those linked to the night time economy have risen by 1 percentage point between 2016 and 2017; although the proportion of all assaults linked to the night time economy has fallen in recent years, from a high of 24% in 2007 to 16% in 2016.
To reduce assaults and enhance community safety, An Garda Síochána has implemented its multi-strand anti-crime strategy. This has involved a range of activities across a number of different areas.
Operations and Crime Prevention: Assault hotspots have been identified and from early summer there has been a high visibility policing presence in these areas at key times. 
Partnership: An Garda Síochána is working in partnerships with licensed premises, the business community and local councils to address issues around anti-social behaviour. 
Education: The public awareness campaign titled Use Your Brain Not Your Fists targeted at males aged between 16 and 35 will be promoted again from today. 
The campaign informs them about the consequences from assaulting another person – they could lose their job, their ability to travel, and even go to jail. It also reminds people of the potentially devastating physical and mental impact on assault victims. (Please see Editor’s Notes for extracts from Victim Impact Statements from young male assault victims). 
The campaign will run across social media, in-pub advertising, and in locations such as nightclubs, sports clubs and youth clubs. It will also be extensively promoted in Third Level institutions from September. 
Victim Support: Through our national network of Victim Service Offices victims of assaults are provided with information on available support services and are given regular updates on their case. 
Sergeant Graham Kavanagh from the National Crime Prevention Unit (NCPU), urged young men to think about the impact of their actions on themselves and others, and advised people to be streetwise when they are out and about. 
"The vast majority of assaults that occur are needless and avoidable,” said Sergeant Kavanagh. "They are usually carried out by males against males aged between 18 and 35. The peak time for these assaults is early Sunday morning. Don’t be that guy; use your brain not your fists.” 
"Never attempt to reason with drunk or aggressive people. Walk away and look for help. 
"Be streetwise when you’re out and about. Planning is key to having a good night out. Arrange transport to and from events in advance. Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back. Avoid walking alone and in dark places. Be wary of your surroundings and mind your property.”
Sergeant Kavanagh urged assault victims to report the crime, which, according to the CSO may be under-reported by approximately 40%. 
"Some victims of assaults, particularly men, are embarrassed to say they have been assaulted. I would encourage anybody, and in particular younger men, to report all assaults to An Garda Síochána. Anyone who has been assaulted will be treated with sensitivity by An Garda Síochána and it will be fully investigated,” said Sergeant Kavanagh. 
The following are extracts from Victim Impact Statements provided to An Garda Síochána by young male victims of assaults. They have been kept anonymous to protect the victims. 
"Since the incident I think about the vulnerability of myself, my girlfriend and my family when out socialising or going about daily life. In the weeks that followed the incident I experienced disturbed sleep and anxiety.” Male, aged 29.
"Towards my friends I seem more easily scared, more anxious and more irritable. That is getting obvious regarding sports: I almost never got booked or red carded before, and it happens to me more often now.” Male, aged 25.
"Before the assault I was a happy go lucky guy, but since then I would describe my life as hell. Along with the terrible injuries that kept me in hospital for a long time, I have suffered from depression and paranoia and I still feel angry a lot of the time.” Male, aged 26.
Images from the Use Your Brian Not Your Fists campaign are available from An Garda Síochána’s Facebook page.
An anti-assault video based on the Garda ‘Use Your Brain Not Your Fist’ Campaign targeting transition year students, has been created by Comhairle na nÓg Liatroma.

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