Domestic abuse victims 'have not been forgotten' during coronavirus pandemic

29 March 2020, 15:18

Domestic abuse victims have not been forgotten amid the coronavirus pandemic
Domestic abuse victims have not been forgotten amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Domestic abuse victims trapped indoors with their abusers during the coronavirus lockdown will not be forgotten, Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed.

Ms Patel told the Mail on Sunday she was aware that home is not a "safe haven" for everyone and pledged that domestic abusers will be punished for their crimes.

Her remarks come as a police chief revealed that cases of online child abuse have increased during the Covid-19 crisis as home-schooled pupils spend more time unsupervised on their computers.

Ms Patel said: "I am acutely aware that the necessary guidelines about social distancing and self-isolation may leave the victims of hidden crime, such as domestic abuse and child sexual abuse, feeling especially isolated, vulnerable and exposed.

"And now schools are closed, millions of children are spending more time online than they otherwise would have and may be even more vulnerable to online predators."

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said abusers will be punished for their crimes
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said abusers will be punished for their crimes. Picture: PA

She added: "My message to every potential victim is simple: we have not forgotten you and we will not let you down. And my message to every perpetrator is equally simple: you will not get away with your crimes."

The Home Office is planning to release figures this week on the shift in online child abuse cases since the beginning of the crisis, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Director of the child abuse helpline Stop it Now!, Donald Findlater, said he expected a sharp rise in people using its services.

He told the paper: "We have seen an increase in the use of pornographic sites because of isolation measures and we know this can be a precursor for some men with addictions to move into illegal child abuse material.

"Parents can help in tackling this and think about what their children are doing when they are being quiet in their rooms, because that lack of supervision can make them more vulnerable online."

Ms Patel's comments come days after the Duchess of Cornwall urged potential domestic violence victims in isolation with their abusers to seek help if needed.

"If this is your situation, or you are worried about someone else, I want you to know that you are not alone," Camilla said via her official Clarence House Twitter account.

"Even if you cannot leave your home, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline or contact one of the domestic violence charities. Please stay safe and get help."

Recent evidence from China suggests that rates of domestic abuse have trebled in areas under quarantine because of the pandemic.

The government-backed National Domestic Abuse Helpline is continuing to operate during the coronavirus crisis, the Home Secretary said.

If you or someone you know are the victim of domestic abuse then call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free on 0808 2000 247.

Stop it Now! works alongside law enforcement and their helpline is 0808 1000 900.