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Police leader: domestic abuse linked to coronavirus outbreak has already been reported

Posed picture Credit: PA

Domestic abuse incidents related to the coronavirus outbreak have already been seen, according to a police leader in Greater Manchester.

The deputy mayor for policing and crime Baroness Beverley Hughes said there had been reports of abuse linked to the virus, which has seen the country put on lockdown, and the force was preparing for serious incidents.

Speaking at an online press conference following a meeting of the region's Covid-19 emergency committee, Baroness Hughes said: "I think we are beginning to see a rise in domestic abuse incidents. We anticipated this might happen in the very stressful circumstances for many families."

Baroness Beverley Hughes Credit: GMCA

She later said the overall level of domestic abuse cases was as expected, but officers were classifying incidents believed to have a connection to Covid-19.

She said families were being asked to stay at home and many had significantly less money, or no income, as a result of restrictions put in place.

"The potential for tension to arise in the home as a result of what we are asking people to cope with, in order to suppress the virus, is going to increase and therefore we would be right to think this might display itself in an increase in the number of domestic incidents we are called to.

"We are preparing for that. Some of those most serious incidents will be challenging to deal with, particularly if the victim needs to be moved to a refuge, but the police specialise in these kind of cases and the local partners, local authorities, they're working together really closely to prepare for that."

– Baroness Beverley Hughes

Baroness Hughes said there had also been a small rise in the number of hate crimes.

In Cumbria, police asked postal workers and delivery drivers to look out for signs of abuse.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin said: "In the coming weeks and months we ask for everyone to look out for each other as much as possible.

"We would also like to extend this plea to those such as postal workers, delivery drivers, food delivery companies and carers who will still be visiting houses, to keep an eye out for any signs of abuse and to report any concerns to us."

– Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin

He said the Bright Sky app, which can be disguised for those worried about partners checking their phones, provides support and information for victims.

On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told the Commons Justice Committee the country may see more cases of domestic abuse, as well as online crime and fraud during the outbreak.

VIDEO: Hera Hussain, from domestic abuse charity Chayn on whether the situation is now worse for people in abusive relationships:

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