REASSURANCE is being offered to people at risk of domestic abuse during the Coronavirus isolation and social distancing period.
Dyfed-Powys Police has seen a decrease in reports of domestic abuse since the government enforced its social distancing measures, however there are concerns that the pandemic might have a serious impact on the lives of women, men and children who experience abuse at home.
Fears over jobs, financial pressure, school closures, working from home and the other sudden changes to our day-to-day lives might increase the likelihood of domestic abuse.
Advice on how to report incidents has been offered by the force, along with contact details for charities and support lines.
Detective Superintendent Anthony Griffiths, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People with Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “We know this is a time of worry for all of us, but this may be heightened for those who have suffered or are suffering domestic abuse in any of its forms.
“If you’re already living with domestic abuse, the restrictions put in place while the government tries to slow the spread of the virus may have left you feeling fearful of being isolated at home with your abuser.
“It may also leave you feeling less able access help and support. You may not be able to see the friends and family who usually support you, and some of the places where you go for help or treatment may be closed or offering a reduced service.
“You may also be concerned that your reporting mechanisms are now limited.
“I want to offer you some reassurance. I want you to know we are here for you and will remain here for you throughout. We have the resources to support you and we will respond to your report swiftly.”
On an average week over the last year, the force would expect approximately 180 domestic incidents recorded. Over the last week ending March 29, 2020, 110 incidents were recorded – this is a reduction of 39%
However, officers are concerned there are people out there who feel they are unable to or unsure how to report incidents safely.
999 should be used to report in an emergency, and a reminder has been issued of the silent solution. A caller can press 55 on their phone if they are not in a safe position to speak, and the operator will be notified to transfer the call to the relevant police force. Staff will then listen to any background noise and make an assessment of the situation in order to respond correctly.
Any reports made during the Coronavirus isolation period are being dealt with as they would be during any other time, Det Supt Griffiths assured. Contact is being maintained with partner organisations, and discussions are ongoing at multi-agency forums.
“If you are concerned and would prefer not to speak to the police, you could use one of the many charities offering support,” he added.
“If you do require our support but are worried that we will leave your abuser isolated with you after an incident, I want to tell you about Domestic Violence Protection Orders. These are orders we can secure through the court within 48 hours.
“The order, if granted, can have a number of provisions including preventing the abuser from returning to the property for 28 days. This should give you the necessary respite and allow you time to put longer term plans in place. You might be reading lots about backlogs with the courts but DVPOs are handled differently and are still available to us.
“I hope this information has provided you with reassurance that we are here for you and will remain here for you throughout.”