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Solicitor calls for urgent government support to help domestic abuse victims

21st January 2021

Solicitor calls for urgent government support  to help domestic abuse victims

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated a domestic violence crisis and the government must do more to support victims, according to a leading West Midlands solicitor.

Richard Port, a solicitor at law firm Higgs & Sons, has called on the government to pour more resources into organisations supporting people affected by domestic violence.

It comes as West Midlands Police said they were called to a "staggering" 1,250 incidents of domestic abuse over the Christmas period – a 60 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Between Christmas Eve and December 29, West Midlands Police made 191 arrests, which it said accounted for almost 30% of the force's total arrests.

Nationally, one in five offences - more than 250,000 - recorded by police during and immediately after the first lockdown in England and Wales involved domestic abuse, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But Mr Port said he did not believe the number of people committing domestic abuse had increased, but rather the pandemic restrictions had pushed victims to breaking point.

“I don’t think domestic abuse has all of a sudden increased – it’s always been there,” he said.

“What has happened is that, with people being home a lot more, victims have been pushed to breaking point and have escaped. The police are also more likely to categorise a crime as domestic abuse now.

“These statistics are alarming but it has been happening behind closed doors before Covid – and it will happen afterwards.”

Mr Port said he is in regular contact with refuges and domestic abuse organisations throughout the region.

“The refuges are under tremendous pressure and they urgently need more resources from the government,” he said.

“The government promised more funding but that simply hasn’t happened.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill is set to become law later this year and is the first legal definition of domestic abuse, including economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.

“It’s meant to offer protection for those fleeing violence and puts a new legal duty on councils to provide secure homes for them and their children.

“But it’s too little too late and currently does not guarantee additional funding for community services. The organisations on the frontline of this issue need financial support and they need it urgently.”

Higgs & Sons’ experienced family lawyers can work with victims and look at the most appropriate option to resolve the situation. This may include applying to the court for orders to regulate who can occupy a home and to prevent the abuser from returning or going to or near certain locations.

The firm can also apply for orders to be obtained to prevent someone from harassing the victim, their children or family, or from instructing anyone else to do so. This can cover a variety of types of behaviour including contact through different forms of communication such as telephone, text or social media.

For more information, contact Richard Port on 01384 327142 or richard.port@higgsandsons.co.uk.

 

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