Lack of funding leaving domestic abuse services unprepared for ‘unparalleled surge’ of victims when lockdown lifts

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Cash-strapped domestic abuse services are preparing for an “unparalleled surge” of victims fleeing violent partners coming forward when lockdown lifts, but warn there is a troubling dearth of safeguarding in place to cope with rising demands.

Data seen by The Independent shows women seeking support due to their partner subjecting them to coercive and controlling behaviour has soared by 73 per cent in the year to January.

Victim Support, who supplied the exclusive data, received almost 16,000 more referrals for domestic abuse from when the government declared a lockdown on 23 March last year to February this year than it dealt with on average before the pandemic.

The charity, which supports victims in England and Wales, found the severity of domestic abuse cases has risen during the coronavirus emergency – with the service receiving 7 per cent more referrals for violence with injury than had levels stayed at average.

Charlotte Kneer, chief executive of Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid refuge in Surrey, told The Independent: “Since the first lockdown began we have been warning that as soon as lockdown lifts we will see an unparalleled surge in demand.

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