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Domestic abuse in the pandemic: Surge in Highland cases, with fears of more to come

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Highland support agencies have seen a surge in domestic abuse cases during lockdown, and say the full impact of the pandemic is still to be revealed.

Nationally, between April and September this year domestic abuse incidents were 8% higher than the equivalent period in 2019.

In Highland between 23 March to 30 June this year, more than 1,000 child concern forms were submitted to the ‘Named Person’ mailbox, with 278 relating to domestic abuse issues.

Highland Women’s Aid groups report receiving 584 new referrals for women experiencing domestic abuse in the period from March to October this year.

In a report to Highland councillors, James Maybee, principal officer for criminal said significant abuse issues are likely to emerge as restrictions are lifted.

He said: “For example, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland is reporting a much bigger proportion of suicide calls both of suicidal thoughts and attempts on life.

“At this stage, it is too early to provide a definitive overview of the impact of Covid-19 in terms of domestic abuse.

“However, it is likely that there are significant issues for many women, children, young people and families which will emerge as lockdown restrictions are lifted, and crucial that contingency plans are put in place to support victims and families should future lockdowns occur.”

Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson said she is looking into why Highland has a higher level of domestic violence than other Scottish local authorities, with data from partnerships involved expected to emerge in December.

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