Carers, postal workers and even delivery drivers are becoming the front line of defence against domestic violence as the coronavirus pandemic continues to change every part of our lives.
After just three days of people being confined to their homes to slow the spread of the virus, police sources say there has been a spike in domestic violence.
But, said Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin of Cumbria Constabulary, domestic abuse victims are now “more hidden” due to social distancing.
He told the Westmorland Gazette: “In the coming weeks and months we ask for everyone to look out for each other as much as possible."
He added: “We would also like to extend this plea to those such as postal workers, delivery drivers, food delivery companies and carers etc…who will still be visiting houses, to keep an eye out for any signs of abuse and to report any concerns to us.
“We take a zero tolerance approach to abuse and victims can be reassured that we will listen to and support them.
“Together we can reduce the abuse to victims who are now more hidden from society.”
Greater Manchester's deputy mayor for policing Baroness Beverley Hughes said she believed that the lockdown is driving an increase in domestic abuse. In a video press conference she said: “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.”
She said that the pressures of people having to remain confined together, as well as money worries created by the COVID-19 outbreak, were contributing to a worrying increase in cases of domestic abuse.
She 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 increase and therefore we would be right to think this might display itself in an increase in the number of domestic incidents we are called to."
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“We are preparing for that", she continued. “Some of those most serious incidents will be challenging to deal with, particularly if the victim needs to be moved to a refuge, but the police specialise in these kind of cases and the local partners, local authorities, they're working together really closely to prepare for that.”
Yesterday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told the Commons Justice Committee that the UK could well see more cases of domestic abuse, as well as online crime and fraud during the continuing pandemic.
Anyone who suspects that a friend, a neighbours, or anyone they meet while they are at work is a victim of domestic abuse is encourage to contact Crimestoppers. The service is 100% anonymous.
DCI St Quintin reminded the public that “a free app called Bright Sky which can be downloaded onto mobile phones has been created by a company called Hestia to provide support and information for domestic violence victims and can also be used by practitioners or anyone looking for information to support victims.”
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