We have written previously predicting that the current Covid-19 lockdown measures would lead to an increase in domestic violence cases . Refuge, the domestic abuse charity, had already reported a 25% increase in phone calls and online requests for help in the first two weeks of the restrictions, as well as a huge increase in hits on the Relate website.
Since then, the Metropolitan Police have revealed that they have made more than 4,000 arrests for domestic violence offences in the six weeks up to 19th April, equating to nearly 100 arrests per day. They also reported that they have dealt with over 17,000 domestic abuse-related incidents, including family rows which were not recorded as actual crimes, resulting in a 24% increase in the number of charges and cautions compared with the same period last year.
It has now been announced that in the third week of the lockdown calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge, have increased again, to 49% above average. Other figures show a 35% rise in calls to the Men’s Advice Line, a helpline service run by the charity Respect. Sadly, the Counting Dead Women Project reports that 14 women and 2 children have been killed in the first three weeks of the Covid-19 restrictions. This is more than double the average rate, and the highest number in a three-week period for 11 years.
The new Domestic Abuse Bill receives its second reading in the House of Commons on 28th April. The Bill will apply to all family proceedings where domestic abuse is alleged, as well as widening the definition of what actually constitutes domestic abuse. Court costs incurred by the police when applying for domestic abuse protection orders and notices will be covered under a government -funded pilot scheme. In addition, county councils and unitary authorities will be forced to provide safe accommodation and support for abuse victims and their children under the new Bill.
Prior to the second reading the government has announced that an additional £3.1 million is to be spent on services which support children who witness abuse at home during the coronavirus lockdown. The funds will be made available to councils, charities and police in England and Wales, with an emphasis on one-to-one and group counselling sessions as well as early intervention programmes.
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by domestic abuse or violence, these organisations may be able to help: BBC, Information and Support: Domestic Abuse
If you are in immediate danger, you should dial 999.
It can be stressful and complicated when relationships break down. Bretherton Law’s experienced Family and Child Law Solicitors have been helping people with changes in their circumstances for over 50 years. We are members of Resolution and Accredited in Family Law by the Law Society. For honest, sympathetic advice call Atifha Aftab on 01727 869293, or request an appointment using the form below.