Domestic abuse was a problem already in urgent need of addressing pre-pandemic. The global crisis we are now experiencing has only worsened that issue. Widely-reported statistics include:
With no clear end in sight to Covid-19 restrictions, seeing these statistics jump up so quickly after the restrictions began is concerning and frightening, but perhaps should not be surprising. We know too that these statistics likely only represent a fraction of abuse happening, as many victims are unable to seek help.
With the current restrictions in England still necessitating social isolation, it is vital that clients know there is not a total prohibition against leaving the home. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 set out situations in which an individual would have a “reasonable excuse” for leaving home. These include to access critical public services, e.g. domestic abuse services for victims, and to avoid injury/illness or to escape a risk of harm. The Police are still working and are still arresting perpetrators.
The family courts are still open
Some victims are confused by the language of ‘lockdown’/’quarantine’, and assume family lawyers and the courts are closed. This is not the case. Urgent applications, including applications for injunctions, are still being heard. Emergency court orders are available – orders can sometimes be obtained very quickly after contacting a specialist family solicitor or direct access barrister.
Judges are hearing cases via online telephone and video calls – using Skype and Zoom etc. Court-based hearings (in person) can still take place where necessary for the fairness of the case and it is safe to conduct them.
Our clients need to know that barristers are there to support and represent them remotely.
If you are suffering domestic abuse you may seek the following orders (amongst others):
You must be an ‘associated person’ to apply to the court for either of the above orders. If you live in the same household as the alleged abuser you will be considered ‘associated’.
If you, or someone you know, are in need of advice or representation, please contact our clerks. Pump Court barristers are currently offering a 30 minute introductory conference free of charge and reduced rates for representation at hearings. If you’re a solicitor and wish to enquire about this, please click here or contact our clerks on 020 7353 0711.
If you are concerned about the safety or yourself or a child, you should contact your local authority or the Police immediately.
This article Domestic abuse during Covid-19 times was written by Cordelia Williams. To enquire about instructing Cordelia or another member of our Domestic Violence Team, please contact the clerks.