• Figures showing a big fall in the number of people calling for help may have given the wrong impression
  • A 62% reduction in calls for help is followed by a 26% increase one month later
  • Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl says domestic abuse is now one of the Constabulary’s main concerns
  • Chief Constable Rod Hansen describes the March – May swing as ‘significant’

A truer picture of how lockdown has resulted in more people being abused at home is beginning to emerge.

Domestic Abuse Gloucestershire advice lockdown 1
Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence advice is available in Gloucestershire advice lockdown

Figures, comparing the same period this year with last, which showed a big fall in the number of people calling for help, may have given the wrong impression say police.

Much more realistic, and worrying, they say is the sharp rise in calls now that lockdown is being eased.

The figures were revealed during the latest public webcast in which the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl put Coronavirus-related questions to the county’s Chief Constable Rod Hansen.

You can hear the discussion on other webcast topics here:

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said, “Domestic abuse has been one of the country’s main concern throughout the pandemic. Whilst it is not good to know it’s happening, it is a positive development to know it is now being reported.

“The risk of not doing so poses a significant threat to people’s physical safety, their mental and psychological wellbeing and possibly even their lives. It is important that anyone suffering domestic abuse has the confidence to come forward and contact the police or other related organisations.”

The latest figures present a wildly contrasting picture. March 2020 compared with March 2019 reflected a 62% drop in reports to the police. When the Government message changed from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’ in May this year, there was a sharp rise of 26% compared to May 2019, An increase described by Chief Constable Rod Hansen as “substantial”.

Domestic Abuse Gloucestershire advice lockdown 2

Chief Constable Rod Hansen said, “We saw a significant increase in hits on websites, charities in particular and on our own, where people were quietly clearly seeking help from home, indicating a need for advice and help in relation to domestic abuse.

“We think this was because victims were either unable to access reporting mechanisms; victims not being aware that services were still available or not wanting to bother the police, or other services, in light of the response to Covid trying to be helpful to us, perhaps to their own detriment.

“Maybe there was less threat to some people, but also domestic abuse perpetrators being better able to exert control in a closed environment over their victims, the lockdown supporting that and temporarily reducing people’s ability to maybe feel free to report.

“So as the lockdown restrictions have begun to ease, people are returning to work. We’re seeing crime beginning to rise again back to pre-lockdown levels including domestic abuse and there’s been a  26% increase in domestic abuse reports to us in May this year compared to May last year so it’s starting to increase again”.

Charities and other organisations like Gloucestershire’s Domestic Abuse Support Service (GDASS) are also beginning to see a steady increase in new referrals

There are many services available in the county as well as the 999 and 101 lines. if you have suffered domestic abuse you will be directed to help via the OPCC website https://www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/?s=domestic+abuse

lady looking sad