• Richard Bayliss

#lockdown2021 Domestic abuse at a staggering level due to lockdown restrictions

Updated: Mar 29, 2021

Prior to the covid pandemic official Government statistics highlighted that there were an estimated 2.4 million domestic abuse incidents each year.

By any measure that is an eye watering figure.

However, during the covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns the number of domestic abuse incidents has increased dramatically.

Domestic violence charity Refuge said it saw an 80% increase in calls to its helpline during the first national lockdown, a trend the Government believes has continued.

1 in 5 offences, more than a 250,000, recorded by police during and immediately after the first lockdown in England and Wales involved domestic abuse, according to the Office for National Statistics.

More recently, over the Christmas period, First Light, the domestic abuse charity said calls to their service rose by 50%, with the “pressure cooker” of covid restrictions highlighted as the key reason for the increase. Calls were received from victims of both sexes and covered a wide spectrum of ages. Covid restrictions "creates a pressure cooker effect and sadly that impacts on abuse in homes."

It can only be expected that this trend has been reflected nationally.

West Midlands Police said they were called out to “a staggering” 60% more domestic incidents than during exactly the same period last Christmas. Of all their arrests over the Christmas period 30% were domestic related.

Lockdown restrictions have severely curtailed people's interactions with teachers and other professional bodies who often play a vital role in spotting cases of suspected abuse.

With calls to domestic abuse services surging in the pandemic as couples spend more time at home it has been suggested by the Government that employers "have a duty" to support staff who suffer domestic abuse, with bosses in a unique position to help.

Managers and colleagues are often the only other people outside the home that victims talk to each day and so are "uniquely placed" to spot signs of abuse, these include becoming more withdrawn than usual, sudden drops in performance, mentions of controlling or coercive behaviour in partners, or physical signs such as bruising.

It should always be remembered that the current "stay at home" rules do not apply to people fleeing domestic abuse.

With lockdown restrictions showing little sign of relaxation, it can only be expected that domestic abuse will continue at the current staggeringly high rate.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

No two circumstances are the same, if you have been accused of domestic abuse then I can outline your options so that you can make the right decisions for you. I'm an experienced solicitor and can advise on any aspect of domestic abuse and violence, please contact me or seek alternative help.

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