Responding to the Covid-19 domestic abuse crisis: developing a rapid police evidence base

Lead Research Organisation: City, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences

Abstract

The proposed project provides a near real-time evidence base to inform the police approach to the apparent surge in domestic violence and abuse (DA) triggered by the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.
Police case file data from seven diverse police forces are pooled to track the impact of the pandemic on DA, analysing changes in the risk factors, frequency, nature and profile of DA reported to police. These changes are mapped closely to shifts in the restrictions imposed during lockdown, transitional phases and post lockdown, when DA calls to police are expected to spike. The proposed study is the largest and most rigorous analysis of police DA case file data conducted anywhere in the world to date.
The statistical analysis is complemented by regular focused semi-structured phone interviews with police officers, to identify emerging challenges and best practice in the frontline response to DA. The mixed-methods study addresses urgent questions on the impact of Covid-19 on DA, which may have significant implications for the complex task of accurate police risk assessment, victim safeguarding, and criminal prosecution as the Covid-19 pandemic evolves.
The Home Office, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), and College of Policing (CoP) are project partners and constitute direct links to critical decision-makers and provide direct routes to impact. A timely and evidence-based development of a police strategy is urgently needed to address the emerging DA crisis and its devastating, long-lasting consequences for victims and their children.

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