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Coronavirus: Domestic abuse

Date:10 APR 2020
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The House of Commons Library has published  an Insight paper examining what the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 say about staying at home, and how they, alongside coronavirus more generally, could affect people at risk of or suffering from domestic abuse.

Campaigners and police are worried that ‘lockdown’ will leave those affected by domestic abuse suffering in isolation at a time of stress and uncertainty for many households.

Anecdotal evidence is emerging of increased incidences of domestic abuse linked to coronavirus, both in the UK and globally.

Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has warned that perpetrators may use self-isolation and social distancing, “as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour.”

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Women’s Aid has noted that the requirement to self-isolate if you are showing symptoms of Covid-19 is “likely to shut down routes to support and safety.” Self-isolation could impact access to domestic abuse services in a number of ways: 

  • Those affected by domestic abuse, who are self-isolating, will be restricted to online and telephone services. These may be difficult to access from home with the perpetrator present.
  • Accommodation services may not be able to provide self-contained spaces where people can self-isolate, or ensure suitable space for social distancing, which may limit the service they can offer. 
  • Support services may not be able to run and emergency accommodation may have to close if too many staff members need to self-isolate or if suitable social distancing measures cannot be implemented. 

What has the Government said? 

The Government has published detailed guidance to support the management of safe accommodation settings during the pandemic. It says that accommodation settings, “do not need to close unless directed to do so by Public Health England or the Government.” Sites should implement “careful infection control measures,” and maintain safe staff ratios. Residents’ access to shared spaces may need to be limited, and professionals may need to provide support over the phone or online rather than in person.

You can read the paper in full here.