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Dating violence soars, but dedicated police workforce grows only slightly


The number of police assigned to work on dating violence and stalking cases remains largely unchanged despite soaring cases, data showed Wednesday.

According to data Rep. Yong Hye-in of the Basic Income Party received from the Seoul Metropolitan Police, the number of dating violence cases reported in 2021 was 10,266, up 223 percent from 2018. From January to August this year, 9,865 cases were reported, and the number is expected to exceed last year's figure by the end of the year.

Reports of stalking are also on the rise. In the second half of 2018, stalking crimes reported in Seoul totaled 897. It grew into 1,938 in 2019, and increased again to 3,621 last year. In the first eight months of this year, 4,992 stalking cases were reported, far surpassing last year's figure.

Meanwhile, the number of police officers in women and youth divisions, which handle related cases, has increased by a much smaller margin. In 2018, there were 684 officers in the 31 women and youth departments at Seoul's 31 police stations. As of September, the number stood at 710, meaning 13.8 dating violence cases and seven stalking cases per officer.

“Stalking and dating violence cases are not the only cases that the women and youth division have to deal with. The seriousness of the workforce shortage is severe,” Yong said.

Along with a lack of investigators, Yong also pointed out that measures to separate victims and perpetrators are not functioning sufficiently. Among four provisional measures – which prosecutors can file to restrain stalking perpetrators' actions in case there is a high risk of recidivism – the strictest measure is to detain them. The data showed that 78 percent of requests to apply the strongest provisional measure were rejected last year, while this year, 71 percent of requests were declined.

“This means that four out of five requests to strongly detain the perpetrator are rejected. There is a loophole in the protection of victims as an insufficient number of workers are in charge of an overwhelming number of cases," said Yong.

By Lee Jung-Youn (