Rise in reported domestic abuse expected as lockdown eases

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the force will continue to tackle domestic violen

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the force will continue to tackle domestic violence and find support for victims Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

Police have insisted they will continue to do more to crack down on domestic abuse after receiving an increase in the number of reports.

A Freedom of Information request revealed Suffolk police flagged 1,268 calls to its control room for domestic abuse in March 2020, when the coronavirus restrictions started - compared to 703 in March 2019.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said the increase is due to a change in the way calls are logged, meaning any crime with a possibility of being related to domestic violence is now being highlighted.

However, he admitted the force has still seen a rise in the number of crimes along national trends - and Suffolk-based Anglia Care Trust says it could rise further in the coming weeks and months.

Keith Whitton, operations director at ACT, said: “Although Suffolk is not currently seeing the rise in domestic abuse that is being experienced at a national level, we anticipate a rise that can be attributed to the additional pressures facing families who are ‘locked down’ together, possibly compounded by the financial pressures associated with job insecurity and furloughing.

“Suffolk is preparing for a rise in calls as lockdown begins to ease and as victims have more opportunity to ask for help. The primary response is to ensure that victims, their family or friends, know how to get help.”

Working with local authorities, ACT and other domestic abuse agencies across Suffolk have launched the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline during the coronavirus crisis.

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People can call 0800 977 5690 for help. Alternatively, a live chat facility is available during business hours at www.angliacaretrust.org.uk

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.

Det Ch Supt Bridger said: “There has been an increase in crime, but it is much lower than the increase seen in the number of calls flagged.

“It is and will remain one of our highest priority areas. We know how it affects more than just the victim.

“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.”

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Leeway, said: “It is sadly not a surprise for domestic abuse organisations to see an increase in the number of people reporting domestic abuse, but it is positive that people are reaching out for support by contacting the police.

“Since lockdown was announced, the instructions have been to stay at home and not see family and friends, which has left a lot of people experiencing domestic abuse feeling isolated and trapped.”

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said officers continue to work “tirelessly” to combat the issue.

Mr Passmore said: “This pandemic is impacting on every single one of us in one way or another but I am sadly very aware that victims of domestic abuse are also facing the additional trauma of having to spend more time at home with abusive partners.”

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