Staying in does not mean you are safe. Domestic abuse during lockdown

Staying in does not mean you are safe. Domestic abuse during lockdown

Recent statistics have shown that domestic abuse deaths have increased significantly since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were implemented. 16 deaths have occurred since the country was placed under lockdown. This is an average of 5 per week, while the normal average is 2. It has been feared that domestic abuse victims are not able to access the help they need.

Domestic abuse is most common in relationships, but anyone can become a victim. Many victims will feel trapped by lockdown restrictions. People from minority groups that are dependent on their friends and the community may feel trapped by the lockdown restrictions. They may choose to stay at home or to return to their home and live with others who might disagree with them.

Victims of abuse can call 999, and they will be transferred to the police. If they use a mobile phone, they can dial 55 to be prompted. They will then be asked to answer the question with a yes or no answer in case they have been overheard. Landlines are not eligible for the 55 services.

Legal Aid is available to domestic abuse victims. Temporarily, the family law south surrey has been amended to help those who are suffering from domestic violence to get the evidence they need to receive legal aid during the lockdown.

Domestic abuse and cohabiting couples

Michael Gouriet talks about the differences in marital entitlements within our podcast “Living together”. Most of the available remedies for situations that are dangerous and pose a danger of harm are the same regardless of marital status. Here is a quick overview of some of these remedies. All of them are still available during the lockdown.

The police

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs), and Domestic Violence Police Notices (VPNs), can be issued by the police. They can protect the victim from being expelled from their home or prevent them from entering a certain distance.

Protection against harassment and non-molestation Orders

The court can make non-molestation orders which prohibit a person from using or threatening violence, intimidating, harassing, or pestering the applicant, or instructing/encouraging others to do so whether in person, by telephone, text, email, not to damage their property. The order must be specific and limited in time. The perpetrator could be imprisoned for up to five years, fined or both.

The Protection from Harassment Act provides both civil and criminal remedies. This includes stalking offenses. As of 2017, the penalty for putting a person in fear is 10 years imprisonment. To prevent the victim from coming back to them in the future, a person who is convicted can also be given a (civil), restraint order.

Orders for occupation

An occupation order is a legal document that determines how the parties will occupy the house. It can also be used to exclude one person. This is more difficult given the current circumstances. If the court considers that the applicant or relevant child is likely to suffer significant harm due to the conduct of the other person, the court may make an order. However, the court cannot make an order if the order would cause the other party or children as much or worse harm.

The process of obtaining occupation orders is different depending on which category you are in. A spouse or civil partner is automatically assumed to have an ownership interest in the property, but a cohabitant would need to prove that they have the right to the property. They can still apply for the occupation order even if they don’t have an entitlement to occupy. However, any occupation order will be limited to six months with a possible extension of six more months. The order can be extended if they can prove they have the entitlement.

These are the key messages to domestic abuse victims:

1. If it is unsafe to leave your home, you don’t have to.

2. You can still get help and support, regardless of your lockdown.

3. Except for a few exceptions, all legal remedies are available regardless of the relationship status.