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One in four crimes across Norfolk involve domestic and sexual violence

PUBLISHED: 16:58 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:12 15 September 2020

Police say they have 'prepared' for the anticipated rise in child and adult domestic violence reports as lockdown is lifted further. Photo: Contributed

Police say they have 'prepared' for the anticipated rise in child and adult domestic violence reports as lockdown is lifted further. Photo: Contributed

Archant

Norfolk’s police chief has revealed the grim statistic that 26pc of the county’s overall crime demand is abuse related - with the figure “going up and up year on year”.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said that one in four crimes dealt with by Norfolk Constabulary relates to domestic or sexual violence. Photo: Steve AdamsChief Constable Simon Bailey said that one in four crimes dealt with by Norfolk Constabulary relates to domestic or sexual violence. Photo: Steve Adams

According to Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable, one in four reported crimes relates to domestic and sexual violence.

“Lockdown has exacerbated this, but even without it abuse makes up a significant percentage of the crimes we deal with,” he said.

“It is one of the most serious crimes we come across - and if it’s a case of child abuse specifically, it will be dealt with by specialist officers.”

In response to the uptick in abuse reports expected as adults return to workplaces and children to schools, Mr Bailey said the constabulary had “increased the number of officers on our online safeguarding team”.

A Panorama investigation found that a call relating to domestic abuse was made ever 30 seconds during lockdown. Photo: Laura DodsworthA Panorama investigation found that a call relating to domestic abuse was made ever 30 seconds during lockdown. Photo: Laura Dodsworth

He said: “We always knew there’d be an increase in reports. We didn’t just sit around and wait for it to happen.

“We’ve taken steps to prepare for this by finding ways to manage the caseload as children return to school, and have been holding online sessions for people to dial into where they can access support.”

Mr Bailey said he wanted to assure anyone who reports abuse on either their own behalf or someone else’s that it would be investigated.

He said: “Every case will be subject to a formal risk assessment, where we look at the risk between the parties involved in the relationship.

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“If there’s a significant threat, we’ll take immediate action.”

During lockdown, it became clear that victims of abuse were not reporting violence to the police in the way officers anticipated.

Instead, they were choosing to contact charities like Leeway, or support channels such as the National Domestic Abuse Helpline.

For Mr Bailey, this was because victims are “very good at making judgement calls” about their own situation.

He said: “We did see a considerable trend of underreporting and that’s always a worry.

“But clearly abuse victims thought about things practically.

“They thought: what happens if I call the police? What will happen next? What will happen to me, or my child?

“In that context, they opted to call charities and support lines for advice. They didn’t necessarily want police involvement.

“But people now need to be confident about reporting abuse to us. Without any doubt at all, we will take it seriously.”

More: Victims speak up about child abuse to encourage others to seek help


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