The House of Commons’ home affairs committee says the coronavirus lockdown will have long-lasting impact unless the government urgently deals with rising domestic abuse.
“Without strong action to tackle domestic abuse and support victims during the Covid-19 pandemic, society will be dealing with the devastating consequences for a generation,” the committee said in a report.
“The emotional, physical and social scars from domestic abuse can last a lifetime,” added committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper. “If we don’t act to tackle it now, we will feel the consequences of rising abuse during the coronavirus crisis for many years to come.”
While acknowledging government advice to stay at home is important to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to save lives, she commented: “For some people home isn’t safe.”
The committee urged the government to adopt a strategy combining awareness, prevention, victim support, housing and a criminal justice response, backed by dedicated funding and ministerial leadership.
Suggested measures include support services given emergency funding, social workers to visit households with histories of domestic abuse and anyone having to leave home during the lockdown being guaranteed safe housing.
Committee members heard evidence that police are struggling to secure Domestic Violence Protection Orders due to the requirement to provide an alternative address, the Independent newspaper reported.
The MPs also warned that when restrictions are lifted the need for support is likely to be acute because many victims may seek help for the first time.
Safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins responded saying: “The government has prioritised those at risk of domestic abuse in this national health emergency. This has included a dedicated national campaign to provide practical help to victims and supporting charities by giving them the funding and the resources they specifically said they needed to help people through this crisis.”