Officers are appealing for victims to seek help after calls to charity helplines rocketed but reported crimes only saw a modest rise.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces were bracing for a potential influx of reports when restrictions lift, and victims are no longer confined with perpetrators inside their homes.
But amid a looming economic recession and concerns over job losses, senior officers voiced concern for the situation after the lockdown.David Tucke, head of crime at the College of Policing, told a virtual press briefing: “We know that financial pressure creates stress within families and it’s a concern. “We will do the very best we can to deal with the circumstances as they develop.” Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, the national lead for domestic abuse, said financial pressures, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and mental illness were all potential factors. But she added: “It’s important we don’t suggest domestic abuse only happens in our most deprived communities, it occurs in all walks of life.” She said that an international meeting involving police leaders from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US heard that violence within families also increases “in the aftermath of any major incident”. The head of the Police Superintendents’ Association previously told The Independent that the government must prepare for a “more volatile and agitated society” after the end of the lockdown. Domestic abuse charities have reported a surge in demand for their services, with a 25 per cent increase in calls to the national helpline since restrictions came into force on 23 March. But Ms Rolfe said police have not seen a “major increase” in domestic abuse incidents across the country, with the figures of some forces up and others down. “We are aware that police have seen an increase in calls about the impact of lockdown upon families,” she added. “These often refer to matters such as child access arrangements, relationship tensions and financial pressures. “These are issues which will need support and advice, not always criminal matters, and if they come into us we ensure that we signpost individuals to the right support services to help them.”