The Mayor “must do more” to protect domestic abuse victims, after data revealed the crime figured in 10% of offences in the capital – even before lockdown.
That is the finding from a London Assembly report on the rising rates of domestic violence in London.
There were 46,000 domestic abuse offences in the capital in 2011, but that figure surged to 89,000 last year – a 93% increase in less than a decade.
The problem is particularly stark as the UK faces strict restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus.
Other countries living under Covid-19 lockdown have reported increases in domestic abuse.
And the National Domestic Abuse helpline has had 25% more calls since the new rules came into force in Britain, according to charity Refuge.
London Assembly police and crime committee chairman Unmesh Desai said the new report would “keep pressure on the Mayor” at a crucial time.
He said: “With the measures taken by Government to fight Covid-19 and people being urged to stay at home, we need to ensure there are support services in place for victims of domestic abuse.”
Financial and emotional abuse and coercion are a “growing issue” in London, according to the study.
And many victims suffer abuse more than once – between January and September last year, there were over 13,600 repeat victims, according to Met data.
In 2018, 15% of prosecutions in London were for domestic abuse – but referrals from the Met to the Crown Prosecution Service are falling, meaning fewer cases will go to trial in future.
Convictions are also decreasing – there were fewer than 7,000 in London last year, down from more than 8,500 the previous year.
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The London Assembly wants the Mayor to track repeat victimisation, and work to tackle falling conviction rates in the capital.
There should be ring-fenced funding for child victims, and more support for male and LGBT victims, the report states.
And funding is needed for rehabilitative work with offenders and potential offenders, assembly members said.
The Mayor should also support the Assembly’s push for a register of domestic abusers – similar to the Sex Offender Register – which members believe could be trialled in London, the report concluded.
A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said the safety of all Londoners is the Mayor’s “number one concern” and there is “zero-tolerance” to violence against women in the capital.
He said: “Other countries have seen a rise in domestic violence incidents when lockdown restriction have been put in place.
“This is why the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime is urgently working with refuges and vital support services, alongside the Met Police, to support victims of domestic abuse to find safe spaces and to continue to access lifesaving support.
“While we have not yet seen an increase in reports in London, we must ensure services have the support they need to support domestic abuse victims in the coming weeks and months.”
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Tackling domestic abuse remains a priority for us, and we continue to respond immediately to calls for help in spite of the coronavirus outbreak.”
He said the Met was working to improve its work on domestic abuse, including “working closely” with the Crown Prosecution Service to increase referrals to court.
He added: “Domestic abuse affects people from all walks of life and deeply impacts victims and their families.
“It is an under-reported, largely hidden crime type, and we encourage victims of these crimes to come forward and report the offending to police.”
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