The correlation between the UK’s lockdowns and increases in violent crime, especially towards women, is clear to see, writes Seema Dosaj.
Lockdown came into effect in March 2020 and imposed significant restrictions on the freedom of movement leading to many businesses closed as a result. Women’s welfare groups warned that the lockdown would result in an increase in domestic abuse and violence. It took nineteen days for the government to finally announce that it would give an additional £2m to domestic abuse helplines. They did also launch a social media campaign to encourage people to report domestic abuse but the question here remains: was this all too late and what impact did this really have?
Life under lockdown affected lifestyles across the board. It changed the way people live, how they work, how crime takes place; and perhaps more significantly brought many social ills to the fore. Certain crimes have decreased during this period but there have been concerns that offences such as domestic violence and cybercrime have surged. These factors were observed globally as well as at home, here in the UK.
In the UK we have witnessed a greater impact of gender based domestic violence which went up during lockdown, as victims were trapped at home with their abusers. The Charity Refuge noted that:
“Women up and down the country are isolated with abusive partners – and children will be witnessing, and in some cases experiencing, domestic abuse.”
The Police in fact reported that In April, May and June roughly one-fifth (21 per cent, 20 per cent and 19 per cent) of all offences recorded were flagged as being domestic abuse-related. This represents an increase of around five percentage points compared with the same period in previous years. As the lockdown measures eased, the proportion of all these types of offences decreased slightly. This is likely because of the overall reduction in police recorded crime during this period, particularly in April, followed by increases in police recorded crime as lockdown measures eased.
The police recorded 206,492 violence against the person offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020, a 9 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2019. The number of offences flagged as domestic abuse-related in this period increased for all offence groups including domestic criminal offences – murder, rape, controlling, and coercive behaviour compared with the previous year, except for sexual offences which decreased by 3 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.