Calls to the national domestic abuse helpline rose by more than a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic, figures have revealed.
There were 49,756 calls to the helpline, run by Refuge, in England over the year to March 2021 – up 22 per cent from the previous year, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics today.
The rise was generally driven by peaks in calls during the national lockdowns, it said.
However, it also said that the number doesn’t necessarily indicate a rise in the number of victims. Instead, it could suggest victims are ringing more often because of an increase in the severity of abuse or a lack of coping mechanisms during periods of restrictions.
Of all crimes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021, 18 per cent were domestic abuse-related. This was an increase of three per cent from the previous year.
Broken down by month, the percentage of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by police in England and Wales was higher for each month in 2020 compared with the same months in 2018 and 2019, it was revealed.
Mankind, which supports male victims of domestic abuse, said monthly calls to its helpline in the year to March 2021 were up 23 per cent on average from the previous year.
It received 1,759 calls from victims and 529 from people calling on their behalf – up from 1,355 and 500 respectively over the previous 12 months.
The majority of calls, 95.6 per cent, where the relationship to the perpetrator was recorded concerned a female partner or ex-partner.
It also reported a 61 per cent rise in visitors per month to the charity’s website compared to the previous 12 months.
The figures were released by the ONS as part of analysis of data from various sources, including police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice and support organisations.
Police force arrests 30 people for domestic abuse in just 24 hours
Cheshire Constabulary launched Operation Guardians yesterday, a 72-hour operation aimed at targeting and arresting domestic abuse perpetrators across Cheshire
Within 24 hours, it reported that it had arrested 30 people on suspicion of domestic abuse offences.
Operation Guardians, taking place from Tuesday 23 November to Thursday 25 November, will specifically target domestic abuse offenders and police say it will attempt to bolster the support available to victims and families affected.
This force-wide operation will see the Constabulary continuing with business as usual, with a focus on arresting wanted domestic abuse perpetrators.
School liaison officers will also be visiting education settings to speak to and educate children and young people about domestic abuse and how to spot the signs.
Figures from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust show its national stalking helpline for England and Wales received 871 calls in the year to April 2021, up 14.9 per cent from the previous year.
Some 72.7 per cent of the calls were from women, and more than three quarters were from victims of male perpetrators.
The most common stalking behaviours were use of social media 47.9 per cent, text messages 43.1 per cent and phone calls 42.8 per cent.
According to Women’s Aid, high demand meant that 63 per cent of referrals of women to refuges in England and 34 per cent of referrals of women to refuges in Wales were declined in the year to March 2020.
The main reason in England was a lack of capacity, while in Wales it was due to the refuge being unable to meet survivors’ support needs.
There were 28,657 referrals of women to refuges in England in the year to March 2020 – of which 18,025 were declined.
Of 192,289 referrals to community-based services, 44.9 per cent were declined.
While the number of refuge beds in England has increased – to 4,277 in 2021 – it remains below the minimum recommended by the Council of Europe.
Only two regions – London and the West Midlands – exceeded this level.
Meanwhile, the number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose 6 per cent in the year ending March 2021 to 845,734, ONS revealed.
And, for the third successive year, the CPS charging rate for domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales decreased to 70 per cent in the year ending March 2021, down from 76 per cent in the year ending March 2018.
In October it was reported that domestic abuse victims will be given more time to report incidents to the police under new proposals by Priti Patel.
The time limit on common assault cases is currently six months, meaning a prosecution has to be brought to court within that time frame from the date of the alleged offence.
But, following calls for legal reforms from campaigners, the Home Secretary Priti Patel is understood to have agreed to extend the time limit to up to two years.
The changes are expected to be put to Parliament in an amendment to the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Common assault cases are typically dealt with in magistrates’ courts and can involve violence or threatening behaviour which lead to someone fearing they will be attacked.
They can often include things like being spat at, pushed or slapped.
Campaigners have argued police should be given more time to be able to bring charges as cases involving domestic abuse can be complex and victims can be reluctant to come forward.