Coronavirus: Suspected domestic abuse killings ‘more than double’ during lockdown

There have been at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings since the coronavirus lockdown restrictions were introduced in the UK three weeks ago, according to campaigners.

The deaths of around five females a week at the hands of men is more than double the average rate of two for the time of year.

The 16 killings, including of children, between 23 March and 12 April were identified by the Counting Dead Women project.

In the last three weeks, the government has been telling the public to only leave home to get essential food and medicine, exercise, travel to work and care for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Counting Dead Women founder Karen Ingala Smith wrote the figure was “the highest it has been for at least 11 years and is double that of a hypothetical average 21 days over the last 10 years”.

She added: “We don’t know yet whether this inflated rate will continue, it is possible that we will see a lower rate over the next few weeks.”

Earlier this month, support charity Refuge said there had been a 25% rise in phone calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in a five-day period a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on 23 March.

Refuge also said visits to their website, nationaldahelpline.org.uk, in that same period had gone up by 150% compared with the last week in February.

At the weekend, the home secretary launched a new campaign telling people experiencing domestic abuse or who are at risk during the coronavirus lockdown that help was available to them.

Priti Patel said the Home Office was working with charities to provide an extra £2m for domestic abuse helplines and online support.

Victims commissioner Dame Vera Baird welcomed the campaign and funding for charities but said it had come “quite late in the day”.

She added: “I think to save lives in this pandemic we are ordering some people to stay locked up for a long time with people who will damage them. And they know that. And that has been staring the government in the face.”

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