Caroline Pidgeon has written to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, stressing the need to support and safeguard victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis.
Domestic violence and abuse data available from China had already sent us an advance warning of the possible consequences of a lockdown. However, we have seen data released this week from France, which has shown a 32% rise in cases of domestic violence since they imposed their lockdown measures, with a 36% rise in Paris. We simply must avoid and mitigate against such a rise in London.
We can already see concerning reports emerging from our lockdown. The national domestic abuse helpline, run by the charity Refuge, reported a 65% increase in calls last Saturday compared with the previous Saturday. Traffic to its website and use of web chat facilities have increased significantly as well. Smaller helplines focused on family courts and male victims of violence have also reported increased calls. These trends will almost certainly continue.
If they have not already been considered, I would like the following proposals to be given serious consideration:
• ensuring refuges and direct support services get the additional support that they need,
local authorities have always struggled to provide adequate services, so any initiative to quickly tackle the rising problem must come from central government
• as has rightly been done with London’s homeless population and is being provided for domestic violence victims in France, using spare hotel space in London to house victims of domestic violence and abuse
• ensure that City Hall leads in highlighting the services available to those suffering from domestic violence and abuse in London