Domestic abuse offences increased during pandemic

The number of domestic abuse offences recorded by police in England and Wales has increased during the pandemic.

But the Office for National Statistics said such offences gradually rose in recent years so it cannot be determined if it was related to the pandemic.

Police recorded 259,324 domestic abuse offences between March and June – 7% up on the same period in 2019.

During and after the first lockdown in April, May and June, roughly one-fifth of offences involved domestic abuse.

The ONS data, released on Wednesday, includes information from a range of sources – including police forces’ own figures on the number of offences recorded and then flagged as related to domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is not a specific criminal offence, so police record incidents under the type of offence (for example, assault with injury) but then flag that it is related to domestic abuse.

In April, May and June – which covers the period during and immediately after the first national coronavirus lockdown – domestic abuse offences took up a larger proportion of all offences compared to previous years.

Around 20% of all offences recorded by police were flagged as domestic abuse related during these months – compared to less than 15% in previous years.

The number of offences also rose each month, the figures showed.

As the lockdown eased, the proportion of offences flagged as domestic abuse went down. But this was likely because the overall amount of criminal offences increased when lockdown was lifted.