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Coronavirus won’t stop police arresting domestic abusers

Authorities are preparing for a spike in domestic abuse cases during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, a senior police officer has told Sky News.

Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, from West Midlands Police, said data from China and Italy suggested incidents could “increase by three-fold” over the coming weeks, and that some abusers have already tried to manipulate the crisis.

“We did have one or two cases last week where offenders told us ‘you cant arrest me, I’ve got COVID-19‘ but yes we can,” she said.

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“We have appropriate custody facilities set up, so we can still arrest people, we can still deal with them and we can ensure that we can keep victims safe at this difficult time.”

Sky News spoke to one victim who said being told to stay home with an abusive partner had made things “much more intense”.


“Usually it’s quite easy to get out and away from a situation but obviously at times like this you can’t get out and away. Routes of escape are very, very limited.”

Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily

Additional financial hardship due to job losses, looking after children full-time and many more hours at home were also adding to the strain.

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“There’s more pressure about money, with alcohol. It’s absolutely draining, emotionally and mentally,” they continued.

“I wake up, dreading to wake up. And go to sleep, dreading to go to sleep because I know I’ll have to wake up and do it all again.”

Image: Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged domestic abuse victims will not be forgotten

Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged that domestic abuse victims who are isolated with their abusers during the virus lockdown will not be forgotten.

Ms Patel told the Mail on Sunday she was aware that home was not a “safe haven” for everyone and vowed domestic abusers will be punished for their crimes.

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She said: “I am acutely aware that the necessary guidelines about social distancing and self-isolation may leave the victims of hidden crime, such as domestic abuse and child sexual abuse, feeling especially isolated, vulnerable and exposed.

“And now schools are closed, millions of children are spending more time online than they otherwise would have and may be even more vulnerable to online predators.

“My message to every potential victim is simple: we have not forgotten you and we will not let you down. And my message to every perpetrator is equally simple: you will not get away with your crimes.”

Boris Johnson’s letter to the nation in full

Domestic abuse charities say they are already receiving calls from victims who are particularly concerned about their children’s safety during isolation.

Lucy Hadley, from charity Women’s Aid, told Sky News, “Women are worried about sending their child to contact visits during isolation. They are worried that the perpetrators might not keep them safe.”

She continued: “They are also worried that they might get in trouble with the court system itself for breaching a contact order, because they simply don’t feel like they can let their child out during the lockdown period.

“So there is a lot of worry, and a lot of concern.”

The Duchess of Cornwall recently urged domestic violence victims in isolation with their abusers to seek help if needed.

“If this is your situation, or you are worried about someone else, I want you to know that you are not alone,” Camilla said on her official Clarence House Twitter account.

“Even if you cannot leave your home, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline or contact one of the domestic violence charities. Please stay safe and get help.”


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