Bedfordshire Police made hundreds of arrests involving domestic abuse during lockdown

Refuge says statistics show domestic abuse "simply isn't going away"

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 4:45 pm

Hundreds of arrests were made for domestic abuse-related crimes in Bedfordshire during the first coronavirus lockdown, new figures reveal.

With a fifth of all crime nationally during lockdown involving domestic abuse, Refuge said the problem is the "biggest social issue" facing women and girls today.

Figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services show Bedfordshire Police made 583 arrests for domestic abuse-related crimes between April and June, when the toughest national Covid-19 restrictions were imposed.

Bedfordshire Police made 583 arrests for domestic abuse-related crimes between April and June

In the same period in 2019 the police made 574 arrests.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: "Although year on year that is an increase of 1.9 per cent, it is also indicative that we have yet to see the large rise in reports to police to mirror those experienced by the charities and support agencies."

There were also 25 voluntary attendances at police stations, where a suspect agrees to meet officers at a station as an alternative to being arrested.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest domestic abuse crimes were already rising in Bedfordshire before the pandemic struck.

In the year to March, 14 per cent of all crimes in the area were linked to domestic abuse (7,907) – an increase on the 11 per cent the year before.

Refuge said there was a general increase in demand for domestic abuse services at this time, and it continues to see peaks in demand three weeks into the second lockdown.

Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at the charity, said: "It is important to remember that behind all of these statistics are real woman and their experiences.

"Domestic abuse is biggest social issue facing women and girls today, and these statistics show it simply isn't going away."

The Bedfordshire Police spokesman added: "Since the pandemic began, and lockdown measures were introduced, charities and helplines have reported soaring numbers of those seeking their help and advice, however we have not yet seen a similar rise in reports to police.

"Figures show that those living with domestic abuse do not always report incidents immediately, and may experience multiple incidents before seeking help. With the challenges presented by lockdown, with fewer opportunities to get away from an abuser to find support, that delay could be lengthy.

"We wish to give victims the confidence and the platform to speak out, especially those in the more under-reported and harder to reach communities, and we continue to investigate and prosecute, and support those at risk from these high harm crimes."

The spokesman added that while some people feel they can't speak to the police, they can contact Signpost, which offers free, confidential help and support, whether the abuse has been reported to police or not.

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