Calls to the national domestic abuse helpline rose by more than a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

There were 49,756 calls to the helpline, run by Refuge, in England over the year to March 2021 – up 22% from the previous year, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The rise was generally driven by peaks in calls during the national lockdowns, it said.It does not necessarily indicate a rise in the number of victims – it could also indicate an increase in severity of abuse or a lack of coping mechanisms during periods of restrictions.

Average daily calls to National Domestic Abuse Helpline
(PA Graphics)

Mankind, which supports male victims of domestic abuse, said monthly calls to its helpline in the year to March 2021 were up 23% on average from the previous year.

It received 1,759 calls from victims and 529 from people calling on their behalf – up from 1,355 and 500 respectively over the previous 12 months.

The majority (95.6%) of calls where the relationship to the perpetrator was recorded concerned a female partner or ex-partner.

It also reported a 61% rise in visitors per month to the charity’s website compared to the previous 12 months.

The figures were released by the ONS as part of analysis of data from various sources, including police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Ministry of Justice and support organisations.

Domestic abuse-related CPS prosecutions in England & Wales
(PA Graphics)

Figures from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust show its national stalking helpline for England and Wales received 871 calls in the year to April 2021, up 14.9% from the previous year.

Some 72.7% of the calls were from women, and more than three quarters (76.7%) were from victims of male perpetrators.

The most common stalking behaviours were use of social media (47.9%), text messages (43.1%) and phone calls (42.8%).

According to Women’s Aid, high demand meant that 63% of referrals of women to refuges in England and 34% of referrals of women to refuges in Wales were declined in the year to March 2020.The main reason in England was a lack of capacity, while in Wales it was due to the refuge being unable to meet survivors’ support needs.