Domestic abuse in Devon soars during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 18:30 10 June 2020

Picture: Getty Imges/iStockphoto

Picture: Getty Imges/iStockphoto

Archant

Instances of cases where domestic abuse was the main concern have tripled, and there has also been an increase in the number of victims looking to flee homes as well as perpetrators wishing to get support, Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny committee heard this week.

Kristian Tomblin, commissioning manager at Devon County Council, added that the number of male victims of domestic abuse had also risen to an average of 12 per cent of the total cases, up from seven per cent.

The meeting heard that pre-lockdown, domestic abuse referrals based on figures from the Splitz support service and North Devon Against Domestic Abuse were on average 80 per week, but that rose to as high as 181 in the week commencing April 14.

The latest figure available, for the week of May 4, stood at 145.

Mr Tomblin added that referrals from professionals are normally around five a week, but that has risen as high as 50 since lockdown measures were imposed. He said: “In April there were 132 contacts where the primary concern was domestic abuse, about 18 per cent of all contacts, and in May up until the 20th, there have been 101 contacts, 15 per cent, where the primary concern was domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse approximately composes twice as many contacts as any other area of concern.

“The police are not seeing a significant increase in domestic abuse reports but are seeing more instances of serious or high-risk incidents over the period – primarily more intense or prolonged episodes.

“Police are concerned that victims are reluctant to report at this time as they feel such reporting may increase their risk.”

He added the pressure of lockdown was exacerbating mental health, drug and alcohol abuse issues, and that there was an increased number of incidents where victims were living with the perpetrator.

He added: “There are increased incidents around child contact with both victims and perpetrators using lockdown, and fears around contagion as a reason for stopping contact or refusing to return the child to the parent that they reside with.”


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