Surge in domestic abuse reports peaked as Covid restrictions eased
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Domestic abuse surged by than more than 20% in Suffolk last year as the nation was forced indoors by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report by Suffolk Constabulary revealed that volumes began rising in line with the relaxation of social restrictions, peaking in August, as more victims gained confidence to report abuse endured while locked down at home.
Domestic abuse is among the police and crime commissioner's (PCC's) performance priorities – monitored by comparing offences and outcomes for the most recent 12 months against a three-year average.
A report before the PCC's most recent accountability and performance panel meeting showed offences increased by 20.2% to 9,677 in 2020 – as the solved rate fell by 4.2% to 11%.
Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said the impact of lockdowns on levels of domestic crime had been an area of concern from the outset.
She said the increase had begun to plateau since the summer – but that the rise was nonetheless concerning.
Work to ensure the force complied with national crime recording standards had also contributed to an ongoing rise in the number of offences, she added.
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Dep Ch Con Kearton said an 80% court conviction rate in the year to March last year was worthy of recognition.
She said working closely within the Suffolk Violence & Abuse Partnership (SVAP) had led to the implementation of a new 24-hour helpline for victims of domestic abuse (Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 977 5690 Freephone 24/7)."
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones said partnership working was central to protecting people from domestic abuse.
He said the Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Unit, launched in November to address and alter the behaviour of abusers, while protecting victims and reducing demand on the force, was fully resourced and had taken on its first cohort of five.
"We put victims and their needs at the centre of what we do when we intervene," he added.
"Often, people don't want to go through the full procedure of court, and we do our best to explain what that means, because it can be a really important way of achieving justice.
"I think we have a conscientious and very ethical approach to partnership working, but we need to continue to look at developing confidence in people to come forward, and support them when they do."
The Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline can be reached free-of-charge, 24 hours a day, on 0800 977 5690.