Lockdown domestic abuse cases push crime levels to 14-year high

Crime in the West Midlands has hit its highest levels in 14 years due to a surge in domestic abuse cases during lockdown.

Domestic violence has soared across the West Midlands during the lockdown
Domestic violence has soared across the West Midlands during the lockdown

In the week commencing October 12 there were 5,833 crimes committed in the region - the highest weekly rate since 2006.

Police chiefs say the spike is mainly down to significant increases in domestic abuse and harassment offences, which now make up one in six of all recorded crimes.

Domestic abuse cases soared across the region during the coronavirus lockdown, with more than 4,000 cases dealt with between March 23 and April 26, the biggest number ever recorded.

It comes ahead of new national figures on domestic violence due to be released next week, which are expected to show the huge scale of the task facing forces when dealing with the issue.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson is calling on the Government to increase funding for domestic abuse charities.

A report to the PCC's strategic board said: "Whilst the night time economy offences remain lower than would be expected, overall crime levels have returned to normal.

"In fact the last two months have shown the highest recorded crime since March 2007.

"This trend has continued throughout October with the week commencing 12/10/20 the highest since 2006.

"This has been predominately due to significant increases around recorded domestic abuse crimes and harassment offences."

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson

Mr Jamieson said: "My message is clear, if you are a victim of domestic abuse report the crime to the police and it will be prioritised.

"There is never an excuse for abuse and it will not be tolerated in the West Midlands."

He called on the Government to "step-up its support to match the growing demand" by boosting funding for domestic abuse organisations.

West Midlands Police is due to launch its #NoExcuseForAbuse campaign shortly, while extra national funding for perpetrator programmes – which aim to reduce re-offending – is expected to be announced today.

The force's Chief Constable Dave Thompson has called for officers to be freed from handling some domestic abuse and harassment complaints so they can focus on fighting crime and responding to emergencies.

He said forces were increasingly responsible for "policing relationships", safeguarding and protection but it was "debatable whether or not that’s actually something best discharged by the police in all cases".

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