In Brief

MPs demand action as domestic abuse helpline calls jump by half

Coronavirus lockdown has caused a ‘surge’ in domestic violence

Calls to a domestic abuse helpline rose by 49% and killings have doubled amid a “surge” in violence, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Counting Dead Women Project have told that MPs 14 women and two children were killed in the first three weeks of lockdown - the largest number of killings in a three-week period for 11 years and more than double the average rate.

The home affairs select committee said urgent action is required to tackle a rise in domestic abuse that has been sparked by the stay-at-home advice under the coronavirus lockdown.

“Staying at home is an important part of the strategy to prevent coronavirus from spreading and save lives, but for some people home isn’t safe,” said a spokeswoman.

She added: “There are already alarming signs of the rise in domestic abuse. Our cross-party committee is calling for an urgent action plan from government setting out practical measures to tackle domestic abuse as an integrated part of the fight against Covid-19.”

In particular, the committee said support services for domestic abuse and vulnerable children needed “urgent and direct funding”, otherwise victims would be put “at much greater risk of harm”.

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The committee is urging the government to set up an emergency funding package, ring-fenced within the £750m fund the government has promised for charities dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

The MPs have also said “safe spaces,” where victims can seek help, should be rolled out to supermarkets and other stores.

Yesterday, The Observer said that: “the enforced social isolation of a lockdown is a particularly terrifying prospect for victims of domestic abuse and their offspring”.

Those calling for the lockdown to be lifted have raised domestic violence as an argument. Last week, a government adviser said the “public health consequences” of the restrictions include an uptick in domestic abuse.

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