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Evidence session on domestic abuse during Covid-19 pandemic – new data shows steep rise in cases

2 February 2021

The Home Affairs Committee will hold an evidence session to examine the prevalence of domestic abuse during the covid-19 pandemic and the adequacy of the Government’s response.

Appearing before the Committee are designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicola Jacobs, and representatives of Women’s Aid and the Angelou Centre. The Committee will also be taking evidence on institutional accommodation with witnesses Asylum Matters, the Helen Bamber Foundation and Medical Justice.

Ahead of the session, the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner has supplied the Committee with data from domestic abuse victims and survivors helplines up to December 2020:

  • For the period 1st April to 31 December 2020, calls and contacts logged on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline database increased by 34% on the same period the previous year (114,986 in 2020 vs 85,771 in 2019).  NDAH advisers made 3,785 referrals to emergency refuge accommodation in this period.
  • For the same period the national LGBT+ helpline run by Galop received 5011 calls. Up from 3679 calls in the same period the previous year, this represented a 36% increase. Calls from 16-24 year olds increased by over 50% on levels the previous year
  • The Karma Nirvana helpline for victims and survivors of so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse saw its most significant monthly increase (79%) during the first lockdown.
  • The Respect helpline for male victims of domestic abuse saw calls increase by 39% over the 9 month period.
  • The Respect helpline for domestic abuse perpetrators looking for help to stop saw calls increase by 62% over the 9 month period.

Correspondence from the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner is published on the Home Affairs Committee website here.

Chair's comments

Ahead of the session, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee Rt Hon Yvette Cooper said:

“This new data is deeply troubling. The increase in domestic abuse that began at the start of the covid-19 pandemic has continued throughout the year and shows no sign of abating. We called for more support for victims of abuse in the first lockdown, but it is clear that more action is needed. As lockdown continues we cannot allow this to be a hidden crisis and efforts must be redoubled to overcome the unique challenges faced in providing support during lockdown.

“On Wednesday, we will take evidence from the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner and frontline charities on the scale of the issue and the forms of domestic abuse they are dealing with. We will also look at what more can be done by the Government and police to overcome the unique challenges of covid-19 in providing support to victims and survivors.”

Purpose of the session

In this session the Committee will explore the scale and nature of domestic abuse during the pandemic as well as the adequacy of the response from Government and police. It will investigate the additional challenges faced by support services in providing financial and other support to victims during lockdown.

The session will also look at current conditions in Home Office institutional accommodation including both Immigration Removal Centres and asylum accommodation. It may explore concerns about outbreaks of covid-19 in immigration removal centres and the quality of support available to immigration detainees during the pandemic. It may also examine concerns about the use of former military sites as contingency asylum accommodation.

Witnesses

Wednesday 3 February

At 10.00 am:

  • Lucy Hadley, Head of Policy & Campaigns, Women’s Aid
  • Nicole Jacobs, designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales
  • Rosie Lewis, Deputy Director & Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Services Manager, the Angelou Centre

At 11.00 am

  • Lorna Gledhill, Deputy Director, Asylum Matters
  • Dr Jill O’Leary, GP Medical Advisory Service, Helen Bamber Foundation
  • Theresa Schleicher, Casework Manager, Medical Justice

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright