New domestic campaign launched as cases expected to increase
Partner agencies across Devon and Cornwall are launching a campaign to raise awareness around domestic abuse and have warned that it may increase in the coming weeks due to the impact of Covid-19.
However, they want to reassure communities that victims will still have access to vital support services despite the current uncertainty.
The campaign will highlight the fact that whatever type of abuse takes place, be it physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial, the abuser is trying to control the victim and uses abuse and/or violence to achieve that control. It will also tell victims how to access help and support.
Superintendent Sharon Donald of Devon & Cornwall Police said, “Sadly, as schools close and home working is encouraged, Covid-19 may cause a rise in domestic abuse. The cycle of violence may intensify with people having to isolate themselves and being unable to socialise in the normal ways. It is important that victims know how and where to get advice and support and that they know they can report by phone and online.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, is responsible for delivering victim care in the area and works closely with the Victim Care Network to ensure that help is on hand to those who need it including to victims of domestic abuse.
She said: “Unfortunately we have to prepare for a rise in incidents of crimes such as domestic abuse that might go hand in hand with a period of mass isolation. Sadly, some children are safer when they attend school regularly as it’s through them signs can be spotted that something might be wrong and picked up and reported.
“It is crucial that victims get straight to the services they need as quickly as possible and the launch of live chat means that they will be able to do exactly that. I would urge any victim of abuse to seek help even if you don’t want to report it to the police, there is a range of support available.
The campaign will be rolled out via digital media and will include mobile phone banner messaging. It aims both to raise awareness that domestic abuse may increase with people self-isolating, and to reassure people that help is available during these unprecedented times.
Anna MacGregor at Safer Futures, which provides support for victims in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Covid-19 will have a serious impact on the lives of those living with domestic abuse. For some people, home is not always a safe place, which might mean that the prospect of physical distancing or self-isolation may be causing some adults and children to feel additionally anxious, at an already difficult time.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that specialist support continues to be available to everyone that needs it. Some services are restricted to delivering non-face to face support, due to current health concerns. However, the support is still here for you and your family, refuges are still running, and specialist domestic abuse workers are still working to respond to your needs and help you to stay safe.”
Chrissy Stower of Splitz, which provides support to victims across Devon, said:
“We see too often that at times of heightened anxiety a rise in the number of incidents of domestic and sexual violence, just as we are hearing now from reports in China.
“The restrictions on people’s movement, financial concerns as employment sees a downturn, the temporary closure of schools to some children, the fear of this virus and the uncertainty about the future – these are all factors that increase the risk of domestic abuse within the home.
“Right now, our message to people across the region, is that there is no excuse for domestic abuse. There is no part for it in our society. To victims, I say that while you may feel alone, you are not alone. There is help. There is support. There is safety to be found for you and your children. We are here to support you.”
Live Chat is a web-based support service that will be available to victims in Devon and Cornwall 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is anonymous, confidential and free to use. To access it please visit victimsupport.org.uk or visit the Victim Care website – www.victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk. Victim Support will still offer telephone support on 0808 031 8178.
In addition to the web chat facility, other channels for victim support are still available. The Victim Care Unit can be contacted on 01392 475900 from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm at the weekend. Information on the practical and emotional support on offer is available at victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk.
In a non-emergency, you can also report a crime 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 101 webchat or on the online crime reporting form - both on the force website – www.devon-cornwall.police.uk. There’s also a useful AskNed system that provides online advice on a range of issues and by signing up to Neighbourhood Alert regular updates and information can be received from the OPCC. This can be done via devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk.
Crime can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via its website – www.crimestoppers-uk.org
The situation continues to change rapidly so for up to date advice on the Covid-19 virus please visit the Force website – www.devon-cornwall.police.uk and www.gov.uk
Notes to editors:
Please contact Tamsin Boyde on 07525 406242 to arrange interviews.
Staying at home guidance
Yesterday, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on coronavirus (COVID-19) and asked people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
There is no change in guidance for education settings, which remain closed except for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. We continue to ask that parents keep their children at home, wherever possible.
The full stay at home guidance is available at:
For children coming in to school as of Monday 23rd March 2020, the following measures/precautions must be taken:
Own clothes to be worn which are fresh on – we recommend putting clothes straight in the washing machine once returning home from school to minimise and control the spread of infection.
Up to date contact details for family members must be available within school and emergency contact details should your child become poorly/exhibit symptoms of contracting coronavirus.
We must register your child in and out of the premises by somebody who either has parental responsibility or has been nominated by yourselves, as long as you are all fit and well and not showing symptoms of coronavirus.
If you become unwell with coronavirus symptoms, you must immediately contact school and arrange for collection of your child.
Social distancing must be enforced whilst your child is not in school if we are to prevent/minimise the spread of infection.
School must be informed if you no longer fall within the critical worker list or you have been asked to self-isolate.
Thorough hand washing to take place at home just before leaving the home.
Lastly please keep yourselves and your children safe, for further updates please keeping checking the school website.
Update from the DfE:
From Friday 20 March schools, childcare and other educational settings are closed for everyone except:
- children of critical workers
- vulnerable children
We have published guidance for parents and carers:
If parents’ work is critical to the coronavirus response, their children will be prioritised for early years and education provision.
The Government has published a list of critical workers:
Earlier guidance for households with symptoms
Yesterday, the Government introduced new guidance on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
- if you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
The symptoms are:
- A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- A new, continuous cough
The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here:
The Prime Minister’s statement from Monday 16 March can be found here:
Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections
Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.
The current medical and scientific advice is for schools and other educational establishments to stay open. If this changes and the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser say closing schools, colleges, and early years settings is in the best interests of children and teachers the Department will take that step.
The full announcement made by Gavin Williamson can be viewed here: