SHADOW Minister for Justice Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood has called for Wales to follow the best practice set out by other countries in tackling a rise in domestic violence cases during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown, the charity Refuge says.
Ms Wood said that the increase of domestic abuse cases during lockdown was a “pandemic within a pandemic” and that in the absence of face to face domestic abuse services, alternatives had to be thought of in order to “protect survivors” and ensure victims know that help was available.
The Shadow Justice Minister said that there were examples of “best practice” from other countries that Wales could follow – including in Spain where those experiencing domestic abuse won’t be fined if they leave home to report abuse or in Italy where an app launched to help victims seek help has seen a 270% increase in consultations.
Ms Wood said that it is “our duty to protect those most at risk of harm during these difficult times.”
Shadow Minister for Justice Leanne Wood AM said,
“I’m glad the issue of increased domestic abuse during lockdown is finally on the political agenda, getting the attention that reflects the severity of the issue.
“The increase of domestic abuse cases during lockdown is a pandemic within a pandemic as people are forced to spend more time indoors with perpetrators, escalating the threat of violence and abuse towards them and further restricting their freedoms.
“In the absence of face-to-face domestic abuse services, we need to think about other ways in which we can protect survivors and ensure they know that help is available and that they’re not alone.
“In Spain, where people are fined if they are seen outdoors, the government has told those experiencing domestic abuse they will not be fined if they leave home to report abuse. Italy have launched an app that will allow those needing it to ask for help from the police without having to make a phone call. The Italian Equality Ministry said it had seen a 270% increase in consultations since the lockdown began. In France, people can use a code-word to ask for help when visiting pharmacies or supermarkets.
“There are great examples of best practice from other countries we can do here in Wales. We know from other countries that the risk of domestic abuse increases during these lockdowns and so it is our duty to predict and protect those most at risk of harm during these difficult times.