Covid-19 has forced the Government to take steps to ensure that people are confined to the safety of their own home and that they only leave the house for a limited number of specified reasons such as essential work, exercise or food shopping. This is in order to stop the spread of the virus and to help the country return to normality as soon as possible. However, for a growing number of people, home can be a place of fear and anxiety and far from the safe haven that it is for most.
Worryingly, statistics show that there have been at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK between 23 March and 12 April 2020, compared to an average of five deaths in the same period over the last ten years. Domestic abuse charities and campaigners have also reported a significant increase in calls to their helplines since the Government's lockdown was announced.
The Government have published guidance providing support for victims of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic which can be accessed on gov.uk. In this guidance, they have explicitly stated that the household isolation instruction does not apply if someone needs to leave their home to escape domestic abuse. Therefore, if you are in danger and you feel that you can safely leave your home, you are allowed and encouraged to do so.
If you are in immediate danger you should call 999. If you are in danger but unable to speak, you should still dial 999 and press 55 when prompted; this will make the police aware that you require assistance and they will be able to track your location and send help.
For non emergency advice, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is run by the charity Refuge, is open 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 for free confidential support. You can call this helpline for advice in relation to yourself or any loved ones that you may have concerns about. There are also a number of local and national charities dedicated to providing advice for victims of domestic abuse.
The Family Team at Rollits has a wealth of experience dealing with the complex safeguarding issues that arise in domestic abuse cases, whether acting for the victim or the alleged perpetrator and able to give tailored and sensitive advice in relation to such issues.
These are challenging and unprecedented times and although our physical offices are closed for now, our solicitors are continuing to work remotely and are available to offer advice and assistance as usual.
Originally published 30 June, 2020
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