Portsmouth councillors 'very concerned for safety' of domestic abuse victims during lockdown

CITY councillors admit they are ‘very concerned for the safety’ of domestic abuse victims during lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 9:44 am
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 9:22 pm

A rise in domestic abuse with people self-isolating and staying at home during the Covid-19 crisis is widely expected as victims are locked up in close quarters with their perpetrators.

China, the origin of the disease, has offered a glimpse of the impending doom about to hit the UK after seeing a rise in domestic violence.

Families under increased pressure, with schools closed and uncertainty about jobs and finances, has heaped more stress on people as the government tries to suppress the spread of the virus.

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Councillor Lee Hunt

But despite the mounting crisis, authorities are aware of the issues faced and are working to deliver services despite facing obstacles with social distancing.

Councillor Lee Hunt, cabinet member for community safety at Portsmouth City Council said. ‘Councillors in Portsmouth are very aware of reports on social media and in the press about domestic abuse rising.

‘We have held discussions to see what more can be done. The coronavirus outbreak will have a serious impact on the lives of those who are experiencing domestic abuse and we are very concerned for their safety.

‘Those seeking refuge are not alone and we continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure victims get the help they need.

‘As an example, the voluntary sector has helped co-ordinate our response to victims in case of staff shortages, and we are working with our refuge provider to ensure refuges remain open for those most at risk. I appeal to any victim of domestic abuse to ring 999 to get help.’

The city council, which opened a new domestic violence post in February, says it is working with other groups to offer outreach support to those who need it, including a telephone service instead of face-to-face meetings.

Meanwhile national domestic abuse charity Respect, in a statement, said the current climate will play into the hands of abusers. ‘We know perpetrators will use infection control measures as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour,’ the statement read.

‘Access to support for women and children may also shrink further due to social isolation and those in poverty will be severely impacted.

‘Measures to decrease social contact are likely to have significant mental health impacts on the population, and this could be acute for survivors coping and recovering from trauma.

‘Reports from China evidence the impact of Covid-19 on reports of domestic abuse and resulting demand for support services. This comes at a time when survivors are routinely unable to access the help they need.’

Police meanwhile have said ‘ we still care and we will still help you’ and have urged victims or those who know someone is in danger to call 999.

People in need of support can also call the council helpline on 023 9206 5494 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 9pm), or visit the Stop Domestic Support website: stopdomesticabuse.uk/victim-of-domestic-abuse

Help is also available from the Respect helpline on 0808 802 4040 or at: respect.uk.net

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