More than 7,500 charges were preferred last year against alleged perpetrators in domestic abuse cases and protective service units have now been established in every Garda division, gardaí have said.

The Garda Annual Report, which was published today, also says the activities of organised crime groups remained a priority to ensure they did not take full advantage of the pandemic.

Over €36 million worth of drugs and almost €8m in cash was seized by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, as well as over 100 firearms and 2,000 rounds of ammunition nationally.

Gardaí say 75 assassinations have been thwarted since 2016.

The policing plan was changed last year because of the pandemic and the 4 Es graduated policing response introduced, which gardaí say included several operations to support public health.

An additional 388 gardaí were redeployed to front line policing and 522 trainee and probationer gardaí were attested early.

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The report also says the number of gardaí last year reached its highest figure in the history of the State at 14,491.

The CEO of Women's Aid said she is not surprised by figures contained in the Garda Annual Report showing that approximately 43,500 calls were received by gardaí to respond to domestic abuse incidents in 2020 – an increase of 17% on 2019.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Sarah Benson said the Women's Aid national 24-hour helpline recorded 43% more calls during Covid-19 restrictions compared to the previous year.

Ms Benson said the easing of restrictions has not led to a drop-off in demand for services, and face-to-face services are seeing an increase in demand.

She said all of Women's Aid's services, including their refuges, are "under acute sustained demand" because they do not have enough services and resources.

Ms Benson welcomed a greater awareness of domestic violence at community level, but said this does lead to increased uptake in service demand.

She said also there is a huge backlog of proceedings in family law because of the restriction of services at the courts.

The recent introduction of the coercive control legislation has been a valuable tool, she said, but there is a need for greater awareness that domestic violence does not have to include physical violence.