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LGA and Women’s Aid: ‘Look out for signs of domestic abuse this Christmas period’

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People need to look out for common signs of domestic abuse this Christmas with domestic abuse-related crimes representing a higher percentage of all crimes in December than the rest of the year, the Local Government Association and Women’s Aid warn today.

Of all crimes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021, 18 per cent were domestic abuse-related, but in December 2020 that year the figure was 19.3 per cent. The trend was similar in previous years, with 16.4 per cent of all crimes in December 2019 being domestic abuse-related, when the year average was 15 per cent.

The number of police reported domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose 6 per cent in 2020/21, with calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in England also up by 22 per cent.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, and charity Women’s Aid are using the ongoing 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence Campaign to join forces to urge everyone to remind themselves of common signs of domestic abuse and to report any suspected incidents to the police immediately.

These may include but are not limited to:

  • Jealously and possessiveness
  • Control over what you or someone wears, where to go and who to see
  • Control over finances or essential items such a mobile devices or medication
  • Dramatic changes in mood, from kind and charming to abusive and aggressive
  • Pressure to do things someone doesn’t want to do.

The LGA is also calling for greater investment in prevention and early intervention services – along with long-term, sustainable funding – to help council efforts to safeguard individuals and families from the physical and psychological harm of domestic abuse and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime, which can have a long-term and devastating impact on families, particularly children. With the Christmas period often marking a rise in reports of domestic violence, it is imperative that we can all recognise the common signs of this abuse.

“As well as a community effort to spot the signs of domestic abuse and report concerns, there needs to be greater investment in early intervention and prevention schemes that helps stop it from occurring in the first place.

“Councils cannot tackle this crime alone. A multi-agency approach is required to tackle domestic abuse to ensure it is not just dealt with as a criminal issue but to cope with the surge in demand for support from victims we have seen in recent months.”

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“We know at Women’s Aid that more women reach out for support in the New Year, often after having tried to hold things together in front of family and friends during the Christmas break.

“While domestic abuse happens all year round, Christmas is a time where the family are together for a sustained period of time, providing fewer opportunities to seek help and support if you need it. There also can be increased use of alcohol – which in itself does not cause domestic abuse – but can be a catalyst for more severe and frequent incidents if you are living with an abusive partner.

“By New Year, we often will hear from survivors saying they cannot face another year living in fear of their partner, and that is why they are reaching out for help.”

Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, said:

“Domestic abuse takes place every day of the year. It can be extremely risky for victims to reach out for help so I am calling for everyone to keep an eye out when they are with friends, colleagues, family or neighbours over Christmas.

“We need to view domestic abuse as everyone’s business. Help is available if you are experiencing abuse yourself or are concerned about someone you know.”

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