COVID-19 leads to increase in Domestic Violence Cases

It has been reported that in the parts of China worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak incidences of domestic violence have increased to three times their normal level, following weeks of household lockdowns and strict isolation. Recognising that rising levels of domestic violence will likely spread to the UK following our own restrictions on social mobility, head of the Courts and Tribunal Service Susan Acland-Hood, told the Justice Committee of the House of Commons that “in the case of lockdown-related crime… We are…very concerned about domestic violence.”

Statistically, applications for divorce in the UK rise sharply after the Christmas and New Year period. This increase is usually blamed on several factors:

  1. alcohol consumption, which can rise by over 40% over the festive period. Drinking excessively may lead to arguments, unreasonable behaviour, and in the worst cases, domestic violence;
  2. financial pressures following excessive Christmas spending; and
  3. increased time spent with family in the confined space of the home, with more opportunity for falling out, as well as reflecting on your relationships.

It is clear that these same issues face us all while the country is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, with restrictions on social mobility likely to be in place for months, families will be under considerably more pressure than they might normally face at holiday times. Police forces, charities and social services across the UK admit that they are already seeing increases in reports of domestic violence, many of which can be directly attributed to the nationwide lockdown.

Beverley Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, said there had already been cases of abuse linked to the restrictions: “I think we are beginning to see a rise in domestic abuse incidents. We anticipated this might happen in the very stressful circumstances for many families.” Lady Hughes added: “The potential for tension to arise in the home as a result of what we are asking people to cope with, in order to suppress the virus, is going to…display itself in an increase in the number of domestic incidents we are called to.” Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset police have seen a 21% increase in domestic abuse reports in the last fortnight, rising from 718 to 868 incidents.

Chief Executive of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, Mark Groves, warned: “While the whole country grapples with the consequences of Covid-19, there are huge dangers lurking for victims of domestic abuse and violence.”

With huge numbers of citizens around the country volunteering as NHS helpers, manning emergency food banks or acting as surrogate shoppers it is imperative that the nation does not turn a blind eye to what may be going on behind closed doors. Dealing with the ever-growing numbers of coronavirus sufferers is hard enough, but the victims of domestic violence must be equally deserving of protection.

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, email her at .

Related Articles

Covid 19 – Domestic Violence Update 

Clare’s Law – the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme