Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has invested £60,000 in a fund to provide emergency accommodation for those escaping Domestic Abuse in their homes during the current Covid-19 emergency.
The PCC set up the fund within the first week after learning of increased domestic violence in Wuhan province in China following enforced self isolation at home during the pandemic there.
"I decided to make £60,000 available to the Force to provide emergency accommodation for those fleeing Domestic Abuse after Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, alerted me to a report suggesting that there had been a 30% rise in Domestic Abuse in Wuhan province since the outbreak of Covid-19 in China.
“When you think about it, we are sadly already aware in policing of how much Domestic Abuse soars when couples and families experience the additional stress of being forced to spend time in a more confined setting than normal because, although Christmas is a happy period for most of us, for police it represents a period when they experience a higher level of calls in relation to these crimes.
“The current situation in regard to the Coronavirus is clearly a much more extreme version of this, with families urged to stay indoors for weeks or even months at a time.
“I wanted to ensure that money was immediately available to help those in most urgent need of safeguarding and news of the fund has been shared with local authorities and partners running refuges through Bedfordshire Police and the daily and weekly Gold groups, led by Public Health, but also involving other agencies.
“I'm also planning to have contingency funds available once the pandemic has passed, on the advice of officers specialising in Domestic Abuse cases, to help people who emerge from households where they’ve suffered abuse so my office and Bedfordshire Police are carefully managing the fund to prepare for this too,” said the PCC.
Bedfordshire Police is expecting a significant rise in Domestic Abuse cases while the restrictions are in place, and are drafting in additional Victim Engagement Officers to support those who are subject to abuse.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire has warmly welcomed the fund to provide such emergency accommodation, and said: “This is fantastic scheme which will provide a lifeline to those who are suffering abuse, giving them a place to stay.
"Our message to anyone in such a situation is clear – don’t suffer in silence, we are still here for you and will do everything we can to protect you, with the support of our partners and local agencies.
"If you are in an abusive relationship, or are concerned someone you know might be, please contact us.”
To make a report, call 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.