The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the impact of lockdown on domestic abuse victims and reinforced the importance of domestic abuse being ‘everyone’s business’.
Domestic Abuse is an absolute priority South Yorkshire Police and my Investigation team in Doncaster, but everyone has a role to play in tackling domestic abuse and supporting victims.
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2020 was an unprecedented year in terms of the coronavirus pandemic and at the time of writing there are still ‘lockdown’ regulations in place. There has been a 16 per cent increase in domestic abuse related incidents compared to the same period last year possibly due to increased stress and financial pressures, excess intake of alcohol, family problems become compounded and being stuck in close confines with abusive partner.
All of which can be further exacerbated by the restrictions placed on our daily lives by ongoing COVID restrictions.
It is therefore imperative that everyone understands their own role within domestic abuse and what they can do to help.
We spoke to Detective Inspector Anna Sedgwick before the day of action to find out more.
She said: “The main aim is domestic abuse, it is ongoing and it has become more prevalent during lockdown, home is not always a safe place.
“This is a call to action, if you suspect there is a victim of domestic abuse please report it to the police.
“We want to raise awareness for victims of what support is available for them and how they can access that support.
“We’re working with the fire service, council and family support hubs. These are safe places, if a victim is suffering they should seek help at one of these and they will be listened to in confidentiality and will be helped.
“We’ve seen a rise in domestic abuse as everyone has been stuck in their homes, people have suffered stress because of financial pressures but domestic abuse is not normal and it is not tolerated in Doncaster.
“We are asking everyone to look out for their neighbours, friends and relatives.”
DI Sedgewick offered the following advice to anyone if they know, or fear, someone may be experiencing domestic abuse.
1. Spot abuse: If you think someone’s behaviour is unusual, it is better to ask than to assume. Consider the use of closed questions (questions to which they can answer “yes” or “no”) in case someone else may be listening.
2. Remember: domestic abuse isn’t always physical. It’s a pattern of controlling and intimidating behaviour that can be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. It can happen in same-sex and heterosexual relationships.
3. Support: The most important thing you can do is listen and believe. Keep in touch. This could be through regular video or phone calls, or if it is safer via emails or text messages. Be careful and sensitive. Keep checking in with them, even if they don’t want to seek help yet.
4. Stop abuse: Encourage them to call the police of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The helpline will put them in touch with local services who can help them make a plan to get safe. People experiencing domestic abuse are allowed to leave their home to seek help during lockdown. If serious domestic abuse is disclosed, you should encourage them to call the police on 101, or 999 if the situation is critical.
For help, support and information contact the Doncaster Domestic Abuse Hub on 01302 737 080, alternatively visit
Throughout the day tomorrow a series of short films, created by the Doncaster DA Team, alongside VRU, will be circulated on social media to raise awareness, visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqeXSKhl0Nj8jfm6wJUIGm2F6Xjz_-WqB
Victims of abuse should also be aware of Clares Law - often known officially as a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, whoch provides several ways for police officers to disclose a person's history of abusive behaviour to those who be at risk from such behaviour.
How to make an application under Clare's Law
To make an application you will need to attend a police station in person or contact 101 where a police officer or member of police staff will take the details of your enquiry. They will also establish a safe way to contact you. You will need to give your name, address and date of birth.
Once an application is made, police and partner agencies will carry out a range of checks. If these reveal a record of abusive offences, or suggest a risk of violence or abuse, the police will consider sharing this information. The aim is to help people to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship and provide help and support when making that choice.If we decide to make a disclosure, this will usually be made to the person at risk. This is unless, in the circumstances, someone else is better placed to use the information to protect them from abuse. There may be occasions when the police will not let you know whether a disclosure has or has not been made.Any disclosure will be made in person - none of the disclosure is made in writing and you will not be given any documentation.
Visit the South Yorkshire Police website at https://www.southyorks.police.uk/find-out/right-to-information/clare-s-law/ to find out more information on this or any other police matters.