3PB and Women in Family Law supports National Centre for Domestic Violence

3rd April 2020

New UK network Women in Family Law (WiFL) is drawing attention to the plight of people forced to stay at home with an abusive partner because of the coronavirus lockdown.

WiFL, which is a network of family solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals, is urging people to be mindful of the signs of domestic abuse and to raise awareness of the work of organisations such as The National Centre for Domestic  Violence (NCDV).

The NCDV provides a phone line which is operational 24 hours a day to provide support and advice to anyone who is in need of help.

The centre will give advice about Legal Aid and put victims in touch with solicitors who are ready to assist without the victim having to leave home.

3PB family barrister Vanessa Meachin QC, speaking on behalf of WiFL, said: “Judges and lawyers are still working and are able to offer advice and support remotely to those in need. We are acutely aware that the current lockdown forces families to spend time alone together and that for some this can represent a very real danger.”

The NCDV can be reached on 0800 970 2070 or via their website www.ndvc.org.uk.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can also be reached on 0800 2000 247 or at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

Mark Groves, NCDV’s chief executive, said: “With Coronavirus, domestic abuse victims are facing a perfect storm. The Government’s pandemic suppression policies are likely to mean that couples and families are more likely to find themselves cooped up together.

“Many of the usual education and social outlets such as schools, playgroups, pubs, cafes, cinemas, sporting fixtures and betting shops simply won’t be available to them.”

For relationships which are already blighted by abuse or violence the tensions are likely to become unbearable, placing already vulnerable domestic violence and abuse victims at huge risk.

Abuse victims are allowed to leave their homes in a crisis

Writing in the Mail on Sunday Home Secretary Priti Patel said that Domestic abuse victims are allowed to leave home to seek help at refuges despite rules to stop coronavirus spreading.

In her newspaper article she said: “Current restrictions telling people to stay indoors were even harder for people whose "home is not the safe haven it should be.”

She also told abusers: "You will not get away with your crimes."

Ms Patel went on to say: “Whilst our advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused - whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise," she added.

An estimated 1.6 million women and 786,000 men experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales in the year ending March 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And in 2018, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides, according to data obtained by the BBC from 43 police forces across the country.