The coronavirus pandemic has escalated incidents of domestic abuse, with lockdown making it a difficult and worrying time for adults and children who live with it.
In 2020 from April 1 to October 31 there were 10,103 domestic abuse crimes recorded by Cheshire Police, compared with 9,533 over the same period in 2018.
Cheshire Constabulary works in partnership with local authorities and other partner organisations with the county-wide OpenThe Door domestic abuse campaign.
Since early in the first lockdown, the partnership has been hosting live weekly domestic abuse web chats on the Cheshire Police Facebook channel, with partner representatives forming a panel of experts to answer submitted questions.
The Open The Door live Facebook web chat dates for the Christmas period are:
- Wednesday 16 December from 1pm to 2pm
- Friday 18 December from 1pm to 2pm
- Monday 21 December from 1pm to 2pm
- Wednesday 23 December from 1pm to 2pm
- Tuesday 29 December from 1pm to 2pm
- Wednesday 30 December from 1pm to 2pm
More than 160,000 people have been reached to date, with the audience comprising, on average, 70 per cent women and 30 per cent men. The dedicated website – www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk – has seen a more than 90 per cent increase in new users since the first lockdown began in March, with 67 per cent female and 33 per cent male visitors.
Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane, explained: “We recognise the damage that domestic abuse crimes have on victims and their families, and this year there is the added concern that people not previously affected may have found themselves subject to domestic abuse due to additional the pressures households are finding themselves experiencing.
“We have introduced the additional web chats over Christmas because it is of utmost importance that we do all that we can to give everyone who is affected by domestic abuse the confidence to speak out and seek support.”
Open The Door recognises that domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of class, gender, race, age, disability or sexual, religious or educational background. It enables victims or friends and families of victims to know who to turn to if they are experiencing, or suspect someone is experiencing, abuse. The dedicated website – www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk – has seen a more than 90 per cent increase in new users since the first lockdown began in March, with 67 per cent female and 33 per cent male visitors.
Detective chief inspector Chris Williams is the Constabulary’s domestic abuse lead. Chris added: “Domestic abuse is a top priority for Cheshire Police as we recognise the severe impact this crime has on everyone involved. There is a tremendous amount of work undertaken to protect victims of this crime, coupled with great support from our frontline staff, who are all trained regularly in this area of our work.”
During lockdown and tier restrictions there is further help available thanks to a partnership with local supermarkets and pharmacies. Alone At Last enables victims who may find they have some time away from their abuser while shopping to speak to an assistant and ask for a safe, quiet space within the store to call Cheshire Police or their local domestic abuse support service.
DCI Williams concluded: “Domestic abuse doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors. We are here, along with our partners, to help people get the help they need and to bring this hidden crime out into the open. Early intervention is key in preventing the devastation suffered by not only the immediate victims but to their children.”
The web chats can be found on the Cheshire Police Facebook page and questions can be submitted anonymously in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org or during the event on the Facebook page. There is no need to register attendance.