Blog: The impact of the pandemic on domestic abuse cases

Covid has affected us all in one way or another but for those living in fear of abuse and violence this isolation just adds to an already intolerable situation.

I am very concerned to hear about the rise in levels of domestic abuse and violence since the pandemic took its grip earlier this year. I can only imagine the terror faced by victims of this terrible crime and the sense of isolation and insecurity they face. This is even worse when young children are involved and, sadly, the impact of growing up in a violent atmosphere often has long-term consequences.

That said, the latest set of data I discussed with the Chief Constable at my recent Accountability Panel, shows there has been an increase in the number of recorded domestic abuse crimes in the last year. However, research tells us that domestic abuse is a very under-reported crime so despite the increases, we must work even harder to encourage all victims to report this dreadful crime.

Back in the summer the Ministry of Justice provided my office with extra funding to support 13 Suffolk charities to continue their work and cover addition costs they are facing at this time. This scheme has now been extended to the end of March, which is a huge help.

Trying to prevent domestic abuse happening at all is the obvious long-term goal. This would result in fewer victims, less family breakdown and lower demand on the police and other agencies. That’s why part of the policing element of your council tax funding this year helped set up a new domestic abuse perpetrator programme. This programme aims to work with serial offenders and uses a variety of methods, counselling and therapies to change their behaviour and accept resorting to intimidation and violence is unacceptable and unnecessary.

For me breaking the cycle is crucial and this ambition requires a multi-agency approach for success. We all have a role to play, from police to social services and the voluntary sector. And it is with this multi-agency approach in mind, that I’m delighted the county has been awarded £238k for a new large-scale perpetrator programme. This programme complements and builds on the constabulary perpetrator initiative I mentioned earlier.

The main agency responsible for delivering the work will be Iceni, a charity based in Ipswich, supported by the county council and the police. The funding will enable Iceni to expand and develop their Venta programme, which has already proven to be successful in Ipswich, across the county.

There are additional reasons for my enthusiasm for perpetrator programmes. Currently, over half of all Suffolk abuse victims of abuse do not support further investigation by the police. This is inspite of the huge extra investment there has been to support the victims such as the Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service. We simply have to bring more offenders to justice or get them to change their ways for good.

I really hope and believe this programme will make a significant long-term contribution in Suffolk to helping the victims and reducing the levels of abuse – something the county desperately needs, especially after all the difficulties caused by the pandemic lockdowns. You can help by encouraging all victims of abuse to report these crimes – there’s no need to suffer in silence as help is there.


Leeway provide free and confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic abuse:  0300 561 0077

Lighthouse Womens Aid provides support, advice and information: 01473 228270

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247


Published in the East Anglian Daily Times November 2020