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Priti Patel says lockdown lessons will be learned to counter domestic abuse

UK News | Published:

The Home Secretary said technology would play a role in helping fight the problem.

Home Secretary visit to Sussex

Lessons will be learned from lockdown in terms of how best to protect people from domestic abuse, the Home Secretary has said.

Speaking exclusively to the PA news agency, Priti Patel said there will “definitely be learnings” around safeguarding vulnerable people and children, as well as the role of technology.

Her comments came on a visit to Sussex Police HQ in Lewes on Monday afternoon, where she heard how the force had adapted to support domestic violence victims during the coronavirus lockdown.

She was shown how potential victims of domestic abuse in Sussex can speak to an officer through their smartphone in a way that leaves “no trace” to be found by a perpetrator.

As well as safeguarding victims, the virtual hearings allow police officers who might be self-isolating because of coronavirus to continue to work.

She told PA: “I think there will definitely be learnings out of Covid around domestic abuse but also safeguarding, working with local councils, working with other agency partners too and I think we can all learn lessons going forward.

“I think going forward in terms of lessons to be learned, and I think this isn’t just a policing perspective or a Home Office perspective, it’s very much about technology.”

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Home Secretary visit to Sussex
Home Secretary Priti Patel (second left) with Chief Constable of Sussex Police Jo Shiner (right) during a visit to Sussex Police Headquarters (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She said Sussex Police are “leading the way” with their use of technology to tackle domestic abuse.

She also spoke about racism in society in light of comments from Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams, who is considering legal action against the Metropolitan Police after accusing officers of racially profiling her and her partner in a stop and search.

Ms Patel said: “When it comes to policing I have seen some of the footage myself and the Metropolitan Police themselves have been very clear that they were appropriate in the way in which they addressed that.

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“I think as a whole as a society there is more we need to do in terms of addressing social justice.”

Home Secretary visit to Sussex
Home Secretary Priti Patel (right) meets Chief Constable of Sussex Police Jo Shiner (left) and PCC Katy Bourne (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She cited the need to ensure that young people who have missed out on education are not left behind.

She added: “There are parts of the country that have been left behind over many years, even decades, it’s right that we level up those parts of the country in terms of social justice and opportunity.”

On arrival Ms Patel was greeted by new Sussex Police Chief Constable Jo Shiner and Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.

Sussex is only the third UK police force area where the top two policing roles are held by women.

Home Secretary Priti Patel meets new recruits (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel meets new recruits (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She also met some of the force’s new police recruits taken on as part of the Government’s campaign to hire 20,000 new officers.

Ms Patel wished them luck and added: “This is just such a great time to be joining policing, for so many reasons.”

The Home Secretary’s visit comes as the new Domestic Abuse Bill goes into its report stage on Monday.

The legislation, which the Home Office says is “ground-breaking”, creates a statutory definition of domestic abuse and establishes a domestic abuse commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors.

Ms Bourne said she was “delighted” with the visit and that Ms Patel was able to see some of the innovative work Sussex Police are doing around data and domestic abuse.

She said proactive work done by the force is “starting to pay dividends”.

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