The BBC’s Panorama programme has found a surge in cases of domestic abuse during lockdown, with 2/3 of women in abusive relationships experiencing more violence from their partners during the pandemic. Three quarters of victims say that lockdown has made it harder for them to escape their abusers, as well.
The Panorama investigation gathered data from police forces using Freedom of Information requests, which shows that there was one domestic abuse call every 30 seconds in the first seven weeks of lockdown.
Safeguarding Car trial for domestic abuse in Cornwall
In a new approach to tackling domestic Absuse, Devone and Conrwlal police have partnered with First Light to use an unmarked police vehicle for domestic abuse incidents.
A plain clothes police officer will deploy to a reported domestic abuse incident, in the car, with an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA). This will provide an immediate response to incidents of domestic abuse at the most critical point and allows the officers in attendance to provide the best support to the victim, whilst at the same time enable officers to gather quality evidence of offences and to provide a thorough risk assessment.
The first weekend was a success with the vehicle deployed to three incidents in Cornwall. One of the victims didn’t want to speak to the initial officers who were sent to the scene. The safeguarding team were dispatched and spent nearly two hours with the victim at the scene taking a statement and completing a full risk assessment. The team also attended a high risk incident in which the IDVA deployed had previously worked with the victim and had built a rapport which helped bring a charge against the suspect who was remanded in custody.
Mel Francis, Service Manager at First Light said: “We are excited to be working in collaboration with the police on this innovative pilot. The Safeguarding Car gives us the opportunity to speak, listen and offer support and advice to victims at the earliest opportunity. We will be able to provide a more holistic approach, enabling victims to access support for their needs as well as safety. Hopefully enabling them to gain confidence to access support in the future and be empowered to make change.’’
The Safeguarding Car will work between 4pm and 2am Fridays and Saturdays.
This initial trial in Cornwall will run for three months and will be evaluated by an independent consultative review.
In Cornwall, support for those living with domestic abuse is available from Safer Futures. People can make a referral online, email email@example.com or ring 0300 777 4777. There is also refuge and support via the Cornwall Refuge Trust website and their 24 hour helpline 01872 225629.