Coronavirus lockdown led to increase in suicides, police chiefs say
Coronavirus lockdown has led to increase in suicides, police chiefs say as fears grow that domestic violence and sex abuse are also on the up
- Police Federation’s Simon Kempton said ‘early indications’ of a rise in suicides
- There is concerns about a possible rise in crimes such as domestic violence
- It comes as many of Britain’s police officers are without masks and gloves
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
Britain’s unprecedented coronavirus lockdown appears to have led to an increase in suicides over the past fortnight, police chiefs revealed today.
Officers are also concerned that millions of Britons being forced to stay in their houses will also lead to a spike in domestic violence, sexual abuse and online crimes, the Home Affairs Select Committee has heard.
But it was also revealed that crimes such as thefts and robberies are all down – as are 999 calls – because of the streets are largely deserted.
Simon Kempton from the Police Federation told MPs there had been ‘very early indications’ of a rise in suicides and suicide attempts at home during the first fortnight of Britain’s lockdown.
He said: ‘It’s going to be absolutely vital that we keep an eye on that and the very, very early indications of an increase in suicide attempts and suicides, far too early to say that that’s a real trend, but there’s very early indications of that.’
Simon Kempton (pictured above) from the Police Federation told MPs there had been ‘very early indications’ of a rise in suicides and suicide attempts at home during the first fortnight of Britain’s lockdown
Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths (pictured above in September last year) of the Police Superintendents Association said the ‘stay at home’ advice meant there has been a dip in arrests for acquisitive crime such as theft and robbery.
Many of Britain’s police officers on the frontline enforcing the coronavirus lockdown are without masks and gloves, it was revealed today.
Simon Kempton said something had ‘gone wrong’ in the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) for officers.
He also revealed there is still no indication of when officers will be tested for coronavirus, despite one in five being ill or in self-isolation, but they are hopeful it will begin by the end of April.
And giving evidence at the same online session today Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths of the Police Superintendents Association said the ‘stay at home’ advice meant there has been a dip in arrests for acquisitive crime such as theft and robbery.
But there is growing concerns about a possible rise in crimes ‘at home’ such as domestic violence and sexual abuse – as well as increasing online crime.
It comes as Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, released figures saying calls to its helpline have risen by 25 per cent since lockdown measures began.
During the week commencing 30 March, at the start of the lockdown imposed by the Prime Minister, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline increased by an average of 25 per cent,
While hits to the national domestic abuse website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk increased by 150% during the initial stages of Covid-19 lockdown.
Yvette Cooper, pictured on videolink today hearing evidence as chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee
Isolation could ‘aggravate’ abusive behaviour, says domestic abuse charity
In the week beginning March 30 calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline rose by a quarter, while visits to its website increased by 150 per cent compared with the last week in February, charity Refuge said.
Chief executive Sandra Horley said 1.6million women experienced domestic abuse last year, and being trapped in self-isolation would aggravate abusive behaviour by those who perpetrated it.
‘While in lockdown or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom,’ she added.
‘Domestic abuse isn’t always physical – it’s a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual.
‘Abuse is a choice a perpetrator makes, and isolation is already used by many perpetrators as a tool of control.’ She urged women whose lines of communication were limited by the lockdown to call the charity’s 24/7 helpline if they were suffering abuse.
Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of the charity said: ‘Since the UK lockdown measures were announced, Refuge has worked round the clock to ensure its life-saving services remain open and accessible to any woman who needs them.
‘Prior to the lockdown measures being introduced, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge, logged on average 270 calls and contacts per day.’
Mr Kempton told the Home Affairs Committee officers faced a ‘monumental’ problem over the weekend with parks packed with sunbathers – but said the ‘cloud is lifting’.
He said that ‘one or two’ officers were having to disperse ‘hundreds’ of people at a time – with many trying argue with them.
Mr Kempton told the Home Affairs Committee: ‘The vast majority of the public get it, they understand why this is so important and it’s inconvenient and would rather it wasn’t the case, but they get it and they want to comply, they want to help, they want to do their bit.
‘But there are still a minority of members of the public who simply do not wish to comply with the restrictions.
‘And we saw over the weekend with the nice weather, some of my colleagues having a monumental task, one or two officers to empty a park with hundreds of people in it.
‘And most of those individuals wanted to argue their case as to why they were doing something within the guidelines.
‘What would help perhaps is engaging the public on an emotional level so more of them wanted to comply, not just that they felt they had to comply, but they wanted to comply.’
Chief Superintendent Griffiths told the Commons Home Affairs Committee around 13% of police officers and support staff were currently off work.
He said: ‘We are obviously experiencing an absence rate. The absence rate is approximately 13% across the whole of the national establishment and that includes police officers and staff.
‘Those will be sick, some of those will be self-isolating because of symptoms and some of them will have caring responsibilities.
‘Most of them are trying as best as possible to see whether they can work at home, which gives you an idea of the solidarity that continues across the police service in trying to do their very best in extreme circumstances.’
He said no forces had so far raised their absence rate as a ‘risk in terms of service provision’ and the numbers seemed to be ‘plateauing off’.
But he added: ‘We are acutely aware that this could change at any point and quite frankly we don’t know what the impact will be if this disease continues to spread particularly into members of the police family.’
But he said there has been no indication as to when testing of police officers will take place.
Mr Griffiths, who is the president of the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales, said: ‘Obviously the key workers that they’re (the Government) focusing on at the moment is National Health Service and we recognise the importance for both national health colleagues and also social care.
‘But we also are key workers in this system and we’re very keen to make sure that we have a position within the testing regime and prioritisation.
‘At the moment, we’ve been given no indication as to when the testing will take place. We understand from the NPCC that orders have gone in for tests to come through and there’ll be a number of tests available for critical roles.
‘But we’re still waiting for definitive numbers and timescales around that.’
This is while in Ireland a domestic abuse agency has claimed that the Government is failing to protect women and children experiencing domestic violence.
Safe Ireland said that it is growing “increasingly concerned” that the Government is not responding to the urgent and practical needs of women and children.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details
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