DOMESTIC violence rocketed by more than 10 per cent during the first lockdown – with almost 1,500 more incidents than the previous year. 

The figures, seen by the Oxford Mail, have fuelled fears that violence could again spike as the country settles into a second national lockdown.

Read more: How to get help about domestic violence

Thames Valley Police received 15,264 reports of domestic violence between March 23 and July 3 – 1,444 more than the previous year’s total of 13,820 for the same period.

Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse, a charity based in Oxfordshire which supports those affected by domestic abuse in the county, saw a 55 per cent increase in referrals in the first six months of 2020, compared to the same period last year. 

Read more: authorities say domestic abuse has FALLEN since lockdown 

Helpline A2 Domestic Abuse Services saw a 25 per cent increase in referrals in Oxfordshire compared to the same period in 2019.

Amelia Hartley, 25, a Training and Development Officer for Reducing the Risk feared a similar rise in cases this month.

She said: “As we move into a second lockdown, there will be increased tension and control within households again.

“Lockdown gives perpetrators an excuse to become increasingly controlling and jealous, which we cannot accept. 

Read more: what to do if you call 999 but cannot speak 

“Victims may find it more difficult to reach out for support again, as pressure on services increases, and there is no longer the opportunity to leave the house for work or appointments or seeing friends and family.”

Between May and August of this year, Reducing the Risk trained 510 people in domestic abuse awareness.

Nearly 15 per cent of the trainees said they had experienced domestic abuse themselves. 

The trainees are now working on the frontline, giving support and advice to victims.

Read more: pub raises thousands of pounds for charity 

Romy Briant, Chairwoman of Reducing the Risk, said volunteers worked over lockdown with victims and were continuing to do so this time.

She said: “We have been providing intensive proactive support initially through lockdown by phone and Skype, linking closely with police when a home visit was needed.

“We also visit to keep everyone safe and help them manage the double trauma of domestic abuse and Covid on their physical and emotional health and to help them support and safeguard their children.”

Training officer Ms Hartley said domestic violence did not just affect adults, but also caused misery for children.

She said: “Through our partnership work with schools and Mulberry Bush, we have heard concerns from teachers and school staff about increased anxiety among children, and also noticing the impact of lockdown on trauma. 

“For some children, remaining at school while their parents are in lockdown and working from home will be a terrifying prospect. Without being home, abused parents may have no support or respite from abuse. 
“Children in households where there is domestic abuse are as much a victim as the abused parent.”

Jo Evans, Head of Operations, Care and Support, at A2Dominion said: “Sadly, we have seen the rise in domestic abuse reports during lockdown that we had expected and prepared for. 

“Our domestic abuse support services across Oxfordshire saw a 25 per cent increase in referrals from April to June compared to the same period last year. 

“In partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, we offer a freephone helpline, support services and refuge placements and we’re continuing to provide all these services during this second lockdown period.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: “Throughout lockdown and outside of it, Thames Valley Police has continued to reach out to victims of domestic abuse and support those that have got in touch to make a report to us. 

“We have also worked extensively with our partners across the Thames Valley to make sure that those that need help and support know where and how they can get it. 

“Tackling domestic abuse is a priority at all times, however, we do recognise that during lockdown the situation may cause anxiety and fear for those who are at risk of domestic abuse.

“It is important to highlight the ways people can report domestic abuse even if they are trapped with their abuser, such as pressing 55 when ringing 999 which means the operator will hear the button press and raise the alarm without the victim having to speak.”

If you are feeling threatened you can visit, or contact the helpline on 0800 731 0055.
If you are in immediate danger call 999.