Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall hears of Northern Ireland's shocking levels of domestic abuse made worse by lockdown

It is one of the more shocking consequences of the coronavirus lockdown that the number of incidents of domestic abuse rose right across the UK.

Ordering the victims of violence to stay inside their homes with their abusers was the worst possible scenario they could have faced.

It is a particular problem in Northern Ireland where they have the highest number of domestic violence cases in Europe.

And it was to this corner of the UK, that the Duchess of Cornwall came today to meet some of those who have suffered and survived this ordeal at the hands of their partners.

Northern Ireland saw a dramatic spike in cases when the country was ordered into lockdown.

There were 8,302 incidents recorded between April and June - an increase on the same period in 2019

It exacerbated a problem that was already extremely severe.

Camilla has spoken of her concern for women during lockdown. Credit: PA

No country in Europe has a bigger number of incidents per head of population.

Northern Ireland shares the top spot on this depressing leaderboard with Romania.

Camilla has spoken before of her concern for women, and occasionally men, for whom the home is not a safe space.

Domestic abuse charities say the government’s “stay at home” message during the lockdown was the worst possible news for many victims.

The Duchess met staff, supporters and service users who are helped by the charity to hear about the challenges they have faced in recent months.

In the 12 months to June 2020, just after the lockdown ended, the number of domestic violence incidents rose to 32,127, the highest number since records began in 2004.

It is more than 88 cases every day.

Northern Ireland went into lockdown towards the end of March. Credit: PA

And those are just the calls made to police.

Campaigners worry that many victims were unable to make phone calls from their homes.

Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid set up an online chat-based service to give those suffering from abuse an alternative was to contact them.

Women in Northern Ireland also have a lower level of protection because of the three-year suspension to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Without a devolved government, it meant legislation to protect women from stalkers and from coercive control was never passed although the Assembly is trying to push some measures through now.

“Victims do not have the same protection as the rest of the UK,” said Kelly Andrews from the charity.