Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor has called for stronger cross-government action to protect the hidden victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Since the lockdown began, police and commissioned support services in Greater Manchester haven’t yet seen an anticipated increase in domestic abuse calls or referrals, leading to concerns that victims may be trapped at home with their abusers with no way to ask for help.

Speaking following the publication of a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee on Domestic Abuse (opens new page) as part of their inquiry into Home Office preparedness for and response to Covid-19, and ahead of the second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill later this week, the Deputy Mayor says the government must strengthen its response to domestic abuse, to address the root causes of abuse and make sure police and support services have the resources they need to tackle it.

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes said: “Having to spend most of our time at home can, for most of us, be a challenge. But for some people, home isn’t even a safe place.

“In Greater Manchester, we have been working to reassure the public that the police will still respond if a person is at risk, support services are still available and accessible regardless of whether you want to speak to the police or not.

“Whilst we haven’t yet seen an increase in calls for help to police or support services, we are not complacent and there is a real concern for those potentially hidden victims of domestic abuse who may not be able to reach out for help. Support which has previously been in place has changed for many, and is potentially inaccessible for some. That’s why we’re closely monitoring the issue and putting measures in place to make sure victims can access support if they need it, when they need it.

“Our Greater Manchester Partnership Board will be coming together –virtually- in the next few days to make sure every area has in place the measures needed to respond to families. Only by working together across partner organisations and communities can we effectively tackle domestic abuse and protect victims and their families. That’s our approach in Greater Manchester and it’s vital that the government replicates this approach working across health, housing and education, whilst also making sure that police and support services have the resources they need to keep people safe from abuse.”

Some of the steps being taken in Greater Manchester to protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Securing an additional 54 emergency accommodation places for women fleeing domestic abuse.
  • Working with telecommunications providers to negotiate IT equipment for those who are isolated, with no access to a phone or computer.
  • Guidance has been developed and shared with GPs across Greater Manchester.
  • A victim services reassurance and resilience forum, which brings together commissioned services across Greater Manchester, has been established to monitor demand and need and respond to emerging concerns and issues.
  • A communications campaign has been launched to raise awareness of domestic abuse, reassure the public that the police and support services are still available and accessible, and encourage people to access help and support when they need it.

“My message to victims of domestic abuse is - you are not alone, we’re still here if you need us,” adds the Deputy Mayor.

“If you, or someone you know, is feeling anxious and unsafe in their home, please don’t suffer in silence. You can contact the police or support services online rather than over the phone.”

  • If you, or someone you know, is feeling anxious and unsafe in their home, visit gmvictims.org.uk (opens new page) or call 0161 200 1950 for help and advice, including how to access local support services. You don’t have to report anything to the police if you don’t want to.
  • If you, or someone you know, has come to harm or is at risk of coming to harm, you can report this to Greater Manchester Police via their Livechat facility at gmp.police.uk (opens new page)  or call 101. If you, or someone else is in immediate danger always dial 999.
  • If you are calling 999 from a mobile phone and you are unable to speak, you can use the Silent Solution by pressing 55 when prompted. Once you press 55, the operator will then transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency.

Article Published: 27/04/2020 12:22 PM