Sadiq Khan has called on the government to go further in helping victims of domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis, following the home secretary’s announcement yesterday that an addition £2 million will be provided to helplines and online support services nationally.
Though saying he is “pleased to see the government finally starting to take this vital issue seriously”, the Mayor has urged it to also “urgently convene a national working group comprising police, service providers, funders, the domestic abuse commissioner and national victims commissioner” with a view to introducing further support and money.
The charity Refuge says the national domestic abuse helpline, which it runs, has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls during the “lockdown” period and that visits to its website have been 150 per cent higher than they were a year ago.
Earlier this month, a the London Assembly’s police and crime committee highlighted the sharp rise in domestic abuse offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police in recent years, with just over 85,000 in 2018 compared with 46,000 in 2011. The 2018 figure represented approximately 10 per cent of all recorded offences during that year, averaging 230 a day. The committee also learned from the Met that over 13,600 repeat offences were recorded during the first nine months of 2019.
The committee asked the Mayor’s office for policing and crime to join it in lobbying for the creation of a domestic abusers’ register and looking at piloting it in London. Committee chair Unmesh Desai said that the “stay at home” measures brought in to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus made it vital to “ensure there are support services in place for victims of domestic abuse” and asked the Mayor to assist with this.
The Mayor’s appeal to the government on the issue added: “We also need to see a coordinated response to ensure all services supporting vulnerable people, not solely domestic abuse, receive the support they need to maintain sufficient levels of support throughout this crisis, giving particular attention to small specialist agencies”. City Hall says that under Khan’s mayoralty a “record” £59 million has been invested in tackling all violence against women and girls.
Photograph from GLA.
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