State police figures show that threats of murder or grievous bodily harm were reported last year almost twice as often as a year before: 214 times in 2023, and 111 in 2022. The increase was 93%.
There was also an increase in reported stalking - 84 cases last year and 53 in 2022. An increase of nearly 60%.
Perhaps after a series of incidents of violence made public last year, including the victim of long-term stalking being murdered, awareness of abuse has grown among both victims and authorities.
Victims can seek a restraining order decision from the court. Last year, such orders were set against nearly 4,500 individuals. That's 627 more than in 2022.
The perpetrators tend to violate these restrictions, and last year it happened or was reported more often than a year ago. Such cases were recorded 568 times in 2022 and 815 in 2023, a growth of 44%.
It is impossible to put a police officer next to each of the violators who have been banned from approaching the victim by a court decision. Therefore, it has been decided to monitor the perpetrators electronically, as is done in many countries but not yet in Latvia.
“We're planning to launch the purchase now. I very much hope we can start making real use of it next year because it's all time-consuming. It is a certain change, it touches on the human rights issue,“ said State Police Chief Armands Ruks.
The decision on the application of electronic supervision will be taken by the court. The bracelet will signal to both the victim and the law enforcement if the court-ordered approach ban zone is violated.
A zero-tolerance stance against the harassers is also expected in the prosecution. After the Jēkabpils murder case, it was decided to specially train prosecutors, and from now on, violence cases will only fall into the hands of prosecutors with expertise in the field.
“There will be no more first-come, first-serve trials like this for all prosecutors, but specific professionals who understand the 'fabric'. And they have a chance to learn. That's the biggest benefit,” said Zemgale court district prosecutor general Aigars Bičušs.
It is also planned to finally establish a single case registration system later this year. For now, the activities performed by the municipal police and the State Police do not reach a single database.