Preliminary findings from an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey show 5.7% of 16- to 59-year-olds experienced domestic abuse in the year to March 2022, around the historic average of 6%.
Yet police and charities reported a significant increase in cases and demand during lockdowns associated with counter-coronavirus measures.
“Rather than being indicative of an increase in the number of victims, those reports may reflect an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms due to government restrictions,” wrote Meghan Elkin, joint head of crime statistics at the ONS, in an explainer on the organisation’s website.
She was commenting following release of initial findings in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from face-to-face interviews which resumed last October after being suspended for 19 months during the pandemic.
On the outcome related to domestic abuse, she wrote: “These numbers are noteworthy because they are the first we’ve been able to produce which give an insight into the scale of the crime during the pandemic.”
However, she sounded a note of caution, saying the estimates from six months of data do not have accredited National Statistics status due to quality concerns about a shorter collection period and lower response rate.