Domestic abuse cases on the rise during lockdown

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The Metropolitan Police is urging victims of domestic abuse, and people who suspect that friends and family members might be suffering at the hands of an abusive partner while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, to speak out.

Across London, the Met is continuing to prioritise and respond to domestic abuse calls and we are working closely with a range of partners to ensure victims receive the support and service they need. The ongoing focus remains on preventing repeat victimisation and closely managing serious offenders.

In the six weeks up to April 19, officers across London had made 4,093 arrests for domestic abuse offences – nearly 100 a day on average – and domestic abuse calls have risen by around a third in the last six weeks.

The number of recorded domestic abuse incidents has also seen a small year-on-year rise – there were 17,275 incidents recorded between March 9 and April 19; a 9 per cent increase on the same period in 2019.

The following are examples of domestic abuse cases dealt with by the MPS in recent weeks:

  • Officers attended an address in east London after a domestic assault victim reported being threatened by her partner. Police checks on the partner revealed he was linked to firearms. Officers located him within three hours of receiving the report and searched his vehicle, finding two sawn-off shotguns. A cannabis factory was also discovered. The man was subsequently charged and is awaiting trial.
  • Officers were called to assist a domestic abuse victim in east London who was pregnant and had gone to a hospital to seek refuge. Her partner had assaulted and tormented her. He was quickly arrested. She was unwilling to support criminal action, but due to the evidence captured on body worn video and the witness accounts from staff at the hospital, the Crown Prosecution Service supported a victimless prosecution. The suspect is awaiting trial.

As well as making arrests and seeking criminal prosecutions, officers are using other measures to protect victims – since March 9, the Met has issued 73 Domestic Violence Protection Orders and 90 Domestic Violence Protection Notices.

The Met is supporting the Home Office’s #YouAreNotAlone campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the support available.

Commander Sue Williams, the Met’s lead for safeguarding, said: “The COVID-19 restrictions and “stay at home” instruction is vital to managing this public health crisis, but unfortunately it has also left current and potential victims of domestic abuse even more vulnerable and isolated.

“No-one who is experiencing domestic abuse should feel that they have to suffer in silence.

“The COVID-19 pandemic does not mean that victims can’t count on us, or that we won’t keep being proactive in bringing offenders to justice.

“Victims should be assured that they can leave their homes to escape harm or seek help, and they will not be penalized in any way for not maintaining social distancing, or otherwise breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our prime concern is protecting victims and others who are affected, and bringing offenders to justice. We work with victims to discuss options and put them in contact with the appropriate support services.

“We want victims to have confidence that they will get the support and protection they need, and that officers will deal with perpetrators. If you have reason to believe that a family member, friend or neighbour is a victim of domestic abuse, we would urge you to contact police, or Crimestoppers if you want to give information anonymously – your call could protect someone from serious harm or save a life.”

Sophie Linden, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “My message to those who feel unsafe and are suffering silently in their own homes, is that the Met Police is there for you. If you are in danger and you need to phone 999, you should do so, and if you need help you can also call the national domestic abuse helpline who will be there to speak to you.

“Sadly evidence from around the world has shown that ‘lockdown’ restrictions have led to a rise in domestic abuse cases, and we have seen an increase in calls to helplines across the UK. This is why it is vital that victims have safe spaces to flee to and that specialist support services have the capacity and resources they need to deal with any rise in cases.”

  • The 24/7 National Domestic Abuse helpline, which offers support to victims and people affected by domestic abuse, is free to call on 0808 2000 247.
  • The Respect Phoneline provides confidential advice and support to help perpetrators stop being violent and abusive, and is free to call 0808 8024040
  • Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and those supporting them www.mensadviceline.org.uk
  • Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247 Mon to Fri 9am–5pm supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage:  www.karmanirvana.org.uk

Childline: 0800 1111 If you’re a child or young person and domestic abuse is happening in your home or relationship. For more information about support services that are available, go to:  https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/

For government guidance aimed at people in danger of domestic abuse during coronavirus, go to:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-and-domestic-abuse

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]