Domestic abuse calls to London police rise by a tenth during lockdown

Increase was mainly due to calls from third parties such as neighbours, says report

Domestic abuse calls to the police surged by more than a tenth in London during lockdown, research reveals, driven by reports from neighbours and family members.

There were 45,000 calls to the Metropolitan police concerning domestic abuse in the 11 weeks from 23 March, up 11.4% on average compared with the same period in 2019.

The increase – which equated to about 380 more domestic abuse calls a week – was driven by third-party reports, such as neighbours, rather than the victims, researchers at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) found.

Prof Tom Kirchmaier, the director of the CEP’s policing and crime research group and co-author, said: “The increase in calls from third parties might point to an increased awareness of noise because neighbours are now at home, or a potential under-reporting by domestic abuse victims, or a combination of these factors.”

The London School of Economics and the Met launched a social media campaign during the period, directing people to, which provides information on how 999 calls can be used to alert the police even if the caller cannot speak.

Working with the Met’s Strategic Insight Unit, the team found the overall level of domestic abuse crimes – not calls – remained stable during lockdown when compared with the long-term trend.

However, while abuse by ex-partners fell by 9.4%, abuse by current partners and family members increased significantly – by 8.5% and 16.4% respectively.

Dr Ria Ivandić, the research co-author and postdoctoral CEP research economist, said: “There has been a considerable shift in the type of abuse recorded during lockdown, with abuse by ex-partners falling but abuse by current partners or family members rising.

“This is important as it shows some people are suffering considerably more: these victims should be targeted by focused policies. Our work also highlights the opportunity to consider how to maintain a reduction in ex-partner abuse as the lockdown eases.”

As the lockdown was imposed, there were warnings from domestic abuse charities that the “pressure cooker” conditions would lead to a spike in domestic violence.

In early May, the government announced a £76m package to support the most vulnerable in society, including victims of domestic violence and modern slavery, rough sleepers and vulnerable children.

The government’s flagship domestic abuse bill is passing through parliament before becoming law, and is currently with the House of Lords.

The bill contains clauses requiring domestic abusers to take polygraph tests – commonly referred to as lie-detector tests – on release, and regulations to ban perpetrators from cross-examining victims during family court proceedings.

  • In the UK, call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247, or visit Women’s Aid. In Australia, the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines may be found via


Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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