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Serious domestic abuse cases rise by 57% in Richmond during pandemic

Cases of serious domestic abuse rose by more than half during lockdown in Richmond, according to a new Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) report.

The number of incidents heard at the domestic abuse MARAC, which manages particularly high risk cases, rose by 57% last year.

There were 388 cases heard by MARAC in 2020 – up 142 from 2019, although it is estimated that 40% of domestic abuse cases go unreported.

The Richmond Council Policy and Performance Review Board report said: “[There has been a] significant increase in the number of cases heard, and professional opinion over the past year suggests that risk is escalating more quickly.”

Richmond Council added that the figures follow a country-wide trend, with the rise perhaps being affected by increased efforts to ensure vulnerable victims can access the support they need.

Domestic abuse figures rise from 2019-20

The number of recorded incidents increased by 11% to 2189 between 2019 and 2020, while the number accessing commissioned advocacy increased by nearly a quarter to 408.

The number of recorded incidents is used to show the level of abuse and the number referred to MARAC suggests the risk of these reports.

The advocacy figures indicate the level of service provided by the council to victims.

The report says: “Previously, these numbers had remained relatively static.”

Richmond Council’s website says: “While self-isolating, families are likely to spend extended periods of time with abusers, which potentially could escalate the threat of violent and abusive behaviour.

“Victims will be more isolated from the people and the resources that could help them.”

In 2020/2021, the number of reported incidents reduced by 85%, while advocacy figures increased again by nearly a quarter – the council have suggested this may result from remote access improving accessibility.

Cases of domestic abuse in South West London previously increased by 12.4% between 2017-18 and 2018-19, after a law change meant local authorities were legally required to deliver accommodation-based services to survivors of domestic abuse. 

According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) an estimated 1.6 million women aged 16-74 experienced domestic abuse in 2019-20, with women making up 77% of victims in domestic abuse-related prosecutions in 2020.

ONS figures show a 28% increase in stalking and harassment offences in 2020-21.

Violet Alvarez, a spokesperson for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which supports victims of stalking, told Richmond and Twickenham Times that it had seen a rise in helpline calls since the pandemic started.

Alvarez said: “We know that domestic abuse has risen drastically during the pandemic, and this is evident in the rise of ex-intimate partner stalking cases that we have seen on the helpline.”

Featured image: Diana Cibotari, Pixabay.

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