ONS statistics out today reveal a rise in domestic abuse-related offences during the first UK national lockdown when compared to the same period in previous years. They also reveal a huge increase in numbers of calls to support services.
The police recorded 259,324 offences flagged as domestic abuse-related in the period March to June 2020. This represents a 7% increase from 242,413 in the same period in 2019 and an 18% increase from 218,968 in 2018.
The number of offences flagged as domestic abuse-related increased each month from April to June 2020, with the largest month-on-month increase (9%) between April and May 2020.
This increase coincides with the easing of lockdown measures from 13 May 2020, when it may have been safer for victims to contact the police, painting a worrying picture for what the women’s sector has predicted will be another spike as the second bout of national lockdown measures is eased this December.
In April, May and June roughly one-fifth of all offences recorded by the police were flagged as domestic abuse-related. Meanwhile, between April and June 2020, Refuge’s Helpline team logged a total of 40,397 calls and contacts on its database, a 65% increase compared with the first three months of 2020.
Labour is calling on the Government to outline its plan to protect victims of gender-based violence and provide sustainable support for the women’s sector to help them cope with the rise in domestic abuse.
Responding, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:
“These appalling statistics show endemic levels of domestic abuse. The Covid crisis didn’t create this scar on our society, but it has made the situation even worse. It is shameful thousands of women have been turned away in their hour of need and the consequences can be catastrophic.
“The UK Government must do more to provide sustainable support these vital services need. It is crucial that if someone is able to take the step of reaching out for help, they are not turned away.”