Dramatic rise in Suffolk domestic abuse calls during coronavirus crisis

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

The Covid-19 crisis has had a “massive effect” on the number of people making emergency calls to police over domestic abuse, statistics have revealed.

Michelle Eaves, operational manager for community safety at Anglia Care Trust. Picture: ANGLIA CARE

Michelle Eaves, operational manager for community safety at Anglia Care Trust. Picture: ANGLIA CARE TRUST - Credit: Archant

Data gathered by Anglia Care Trust, which runs a 24/7 domestic abuse helpline, also shows a 25% increase in referrals to its services since March, especially when lockdown began to ease.

A Freedom of Information request showed that Suffolk police received 109 calls to 999 regarding domestic abuse in May 2020, up 56 from the same month in 2019.

It also received 34 more calls about domestic abuse to the 101 non-emergency number.

Year-on-year increases were recorded in both 999 and 101 calls in March, April and May.

Michelle Eaves, operations manager for the domestic abuse outreach program at Anglia Care Trust (ACT), said: “I think the lockdown has had a massive effect on the numbers.

“Our statistics show that overall from the beginning of March, the total referrals we have had has gone up 25%.

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“For those suffering abuse, it’s terrifying. It’s absolutely debilitating.

“It is the fear of reaching out which will hold some sufferers from reporting what is going on, particularly if the police are involved.

“It’s the recrimination - they’re worried about what would happen if their abuser would find out, which was especially relevant during lockdown.”

Ms Eaves added that rise could be explained by “more people are knowing where to get help”.

Det Ch Supt Eamonn Bridger, of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Domestic abuse is and will remain one of our highest priority areas.

“These increases are part of a national trend – this has been more of a hidden crime in the past, which is changing as more people begin to come forward.

“The more people who come forward, the better.”

Those looking for help can contact Anglia Care Trust on 0800 977 5690.

Alternatively, a live chat facility is available during business hours which can be accessed here.

Those in immediate danger can call 999. If it is not safe to speak, pressing 55 after dialling 999 indicates to the operator that you need police help.

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