Police in Northern Ireland are investigating "potential domestic murders"during the coronavirus crisis.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd had previously predicted a rise in domestic violence during the epidemic, and he said on Thursday that has sadly materialised across the service.

He said: "Regrettably we now have potential domestic murders that we areinvestigating.

"Some of those are likely to come before the courts today or tomorrow."

He told Stormont's justice committee his officers are seeing more reports ofabuse and violence in the home.

People are currently confined to their homes apart from to make essentialtrips, in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

Mr Todd said: "We are certainly seeing that volume (of abuse) rising as waspredicted.

"We are doing a significant amount of work around that in terms ofcommunications."

DUP committee chair Paul Givan said the officer's remarks will cause alarm.

Mr Todd added: "Regrettably we are seeing increases across the service."

Northern Ireland's main domestic violence charity has called for more resources as it braces itself for a surge in cases during the lockdown.

Women's Aid urged a "guaranteed commitment" from Stormont ministers following restrictions imposed on movement.

Meanwhile, "eye-watering" amounts of personal protective equipment will bearriving with the Police Service of Northern Ireland over the coming weeks as officers tackle the fall-out from the epidemic, Mr Todd said.

The force is attempting to keep its interventions with the public limited toadvice around social distancing but accepts enforcement may be required for a minority.

Stocks of protective kit are only "modest" at present but nobody is beingsent into risky situations unprotected, the assistant chief constable said.

He added: "We have ordered eye-watering amounts of equipment.

"Those are going to come online this week, next week and the week after.

"With increasing infection rates in the community, increasing risks to myofficers and staff, invariably the huge amounts of equipment coming in will be matched by huge amounts of equipment going out.

"This is going to be an issue for some time."