Dealing with Covid-19 and lockdown is perhaps enough to contend with for most, but what about those coping with being a victim of domestic abuse throughout lockdown?
During lockdown, most people have been forced to spend prolonged periods of time in the home with our families, for our safety; a frightening prospect for men, women and children who are subjected to domestic abuse in their home.
Throughout the lock down period, there has been a significant increase in domestic abuse referrals. A charity local to us has confirmed that in comparing the figures for referrals, it is clear that there has been a significant increase in referrals received this year, to last. Whether that is solely due to lockdown, or whether it is due to domestic abuse being publicised more, and therefore victims feeling more able to access the necessary support, is unknown.
APRIL 19 106 referrals APRIL 20 130 referrals (approx.)
MAY 19 93 referrals MAY 20 211 referrals
Calls to the UK’s national domestic abuse helpline have risen by 66 per cent, and visits to its website have surged by 950 per cent since the start of the lockdown.
What is important for victims to understand, is that despite lockdown victims can still access support and protection.
What support is available?
Domestic abuse charities are still working remotely, this means they can offer support via the telephone and in other remote ways (i.e. video call etc).
The Police are prepared! In the event you are being subjected to domestic abuse in the home and you are concerned about your immediate safety, you must dial 999. The Police do have in place a “silent solutions” system, which means that when the operator asks what service you require, you can dial 55 (if possible, also cough or tap the phone so they know you are on the line), without speaking, and the operator will contact your local Police force as a matter of emergency.
Depending on the nature of the abuse, the Police can implement several interventions. The perpetrator could be arrested and have subsequent bail conditions enforced, ensuring your safety. Alternatively, they may signpost you to your local domestic abuse charity and offer advice regarding contact with a Solicitor; from there you can be aided in securing an order which will protect you from ongoing abuse.
Domestic abuse victims can also access safe spaces at Boots pharmacies and Morrisons pharmacies; it is hoped this scheme will roll out to further organisations in the forthcoming weeks.
Legal support and Court process in lockdown
Solicitors are still working throughout lockdown, albeit remotely. If you require advice regarding domestic abuse, you can call a Solicitor to obtain that advice.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, this could result in you being advised to secure a Non Molestation Order and/or an Occupation Order to ensure your safety.
The Court are also still working; again, this is remotely.
The Court is always prepared to help and put in place orders should the Court deem them necessary. The Court will deal with such applications, at present, via the telephone.
The perpetrator will then be served with the Court paper work (your Solicitor will arrange for an agent to do this, or if you are a litigant in person, the Court Bailiff will usually conduct this). There will then be a return hearing, usually within 14 days. Again this will take place at present, via the telephone.
Funding an application to Court
In some circumstances, you may be eligible for legal aid. You can discuss this at an appointment with your Solicitor. Generally, evidence required for legal aid is, at present, being accepted electronically, either via email or WhatsApp to ensure that funding can be secured for such an application.
For further information or advice regarding obtaining a Non Molestation Order or Occupation Order, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Williamson on 01642 233963. If it not safe to speak on the phone, you can contact via email firstname.lastname@example.org