Domestic abuse behind big rise in violence offences during lockdown

Man threatening his girlfriend with fist

Crimes figures show Covid lockdown saw increases in violence with injury linked to domestic abuse. - Credit: Getty Images

Covid restrictions that left households in lockdown confinement for long periods coincided with a big rise in domestic abuse in Norfolk. 

Latest figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the year up to June 2021 show overall crime increased slightly by 1.5pc in Norfolk, with 65,661 recorded offences, excluding fraud. 

It shows there was a 17pc increase in violence with injury which chief constable Paul Sanford said was down to an “exponential rise in domestic abuse”.

“Crimes which have increased are those that largely involve people who are known to one another, often living in the same household,” he said.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford.

The new temporary chief constable for Norfolk, Paul Sanford. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

“In Norfolk, almost a quarter of all calls made to police are related to domestic abuse and this demand is reflected in the number of offences we’re recording which have increased over the last 12 months.”

Mr Sanford said the force was working to ensure it addressed perpetrators’ behaviours and educated police officers around domestic abuse and areas such as coercive control.

“This is not an issue that just involves the police and in order to make sustainable changes we are already working with partners to address the issue more broadly,” he said.

Stalking and harassment offences increased the most in the last 12 months, up by 66pc, largely down to a change in legislation which came into effect in April last year. 

It means that where behaviour is reported between a victim and their former partner it must be recorded as stalking, unless the officer in the case shows clear rationale as to why the matter amounts to harassment only.

Thief stealing bag from the car

Figures show big falls in reported thefts, burglaries, criminal damage and robbery during the 12 months that included Covid lockdowns. - Credit: Getty Images

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The data covers months when Covid measures meant many businesses including shops, pubs and nightclubs were closed and people’s freedoms were restricted and shows significant falls in residential and business burglaries, theft, criminal damage and robberies.

There was also an 11pc reduction in knife crimes with 811 reported, down from 915 the previous year, though it was still the second highest number in the past decade.

Mr Sanford added: “Some of the crimes which have the biggest impact and matter most to our communities continue to reduce significantly with burglary, vehicle crime and thefts all down.

“Norfolk is a safe county to live, work and visit and I can reassure communities that officers and staff in the force are committed to make it even safer.”

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