Latest domestic abuse statistics reveal offence increase during pandemic

Latest domestic abuse statistics reveal offence increase during pandemic

The latest Office of National Statistics domestic abuse statistics reveal an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the pandemic in England and Wales.

The data which was extracted from a range of data sources to assess the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on domestic abuse resulted in a rise in domestic abuse cases.

The UK’s first lockdown resulted in a record number of people obtaining court orders for domestic abuse in order to protect themselves.

New figures released reveal that more than 8,800 applications for domestic violence remedy orders were registered in England and Wales between April and June 2020. This is the highest number ever recorded by the Ministry of Justice in a quarter – with the figure being 24% higher than the same period last year.

Here is a snapshot of the main points:

  • Police recorded crime data show an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, however, there has been a gradual increase in police recorded domestic abuse-related offences over recent years as police have improved their recording of these offences; therefore it cannot be determined whether this increase can be directly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The number of domestic violence remedy orders shows a mixed picture; the weekly number of non-molestation applications, and the number of orders granted from mid-April to the end of June were above the pre-lockdown baseline, while the weekly number of occupation orders granted between March and the end of June were generally below the pre-lockdown baseline.
  • London’s Metropolitan police service received an increased number of calls-for-service for domestic incidents following the lockdown, largely driven by third-party calls; this is likely because people were spending more time at home during this period.
  • There has generally been an increase in demand for domestic abuse victim services during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly affecting helplines as lockdown measures eased; this does not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of victims, but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms such as the ability to leave the home to escape the abuse, or attend counselling.
  • The total number of cases discussed at multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) decreased in April to June 2020 compared with the previous quarter; this may reflect the difficulties high-risk victims faced when attempting to safely contact the police (the main source of referral to MARACs) during the lockdown period.

More recently, stalking analysis has taken place which has revealed a domestic abuse link too.

It is now increasingly being recognised as a form of domestic abuse within the criminal justice system, with CPS analysis finding the majority of offences are committed by ex-partners.

A record 2,288 charges were brought in 2019/20 – more than double the number five years previously.

This is partly driven by better recognition among police and prosecutors of stalking as part of a wider pattern of domestic abuse.

CPS analysis of stalking prosecutions this year – the first exercise of its kind – found that most offences were committed by abusive ex-partners.

Of stalking cases sampled at random from across England and Wales, 84 per cent involved complaints against ex-partners and three-quarters reported domestic abuse had previously occurred during the relationship.

Joanna Coleman, CPS national lead for stalking prosecutions, said:

“Stalking is an abhorrent offence which leaves victims traumatised, humiliated and often in genuine fear of their lives.

“I am very encouraged to see our work in this area reflected in a record number of stalking prosecutions, however we recognise there is always more to be done.

“My message to stalking and domestic abuse victims is this – no matter the coronavirus restrictions in place, the CPS and criminal justice system is open for business and we will treat your case as high priority.”

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