Words by Adam Smith
Domestic abuse has increased by a massive 38% in Erdington and now accounts for a quarter of all crime in the area, the latest crime statistics have revealed.
As the latest COVID-19 restrictions take hold there are fears violence at home could rise further, as victims become trapped with their abuser in their home.
Erdington’s top cop, Inspector Haroon Chughtai, promised domestic abuse is now a priority due the huge year on year rise in the crime.
In his September message to Erdington residents Inspector Chughtai outlined the extent of the problem.
He said: ‘Erdington is unfortunately showing a near 8% increase in overall crime, and that is an extra 421 victims of crime.
‘Domestic abuse sadly contributes a large part to this increase with roughly over one quarter of the overall crime being domestic abuse offences. Domestic abuse continues to show increases with a 38% rise, which is 345 extra victims.’
He added: ‘Domestic abuse remains a force priority and we are determined to bring these numbers down.’
The United Nations described domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic’ after it emerged across the world there had been a 20% increase in the crime during various lockdowns – with victims physically trapped inside abusive households.
During lockdown the UK’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline revealed calls increased by 80%.
Inspector Chughtai described how combatting domestic abuse is a daily battle in Erdington.
He said: ‘Domestic abuse remains a critical force mission, and as such a significant amount of both local and force resources are invested daily into tackling it.
‘For us locally we focus on two key areas. Firstly prioritising pursuing and arresting offenders who are wanted for domestic abuse offences and secondly we identify repeat victim of domestic abuse each month and then take a problem solving approach to work with them and even at times the perpetrators to see what part we can play to break that cycle.
‘Whether that is seeking injunctions/prevention orders, supporting with house moves, signposting help and opportunities etc.’
Inspector Chughtai did also point to a reduction in robberies and burglaries in the latest crime statistics.
He said: ‘Robbery and burglary continue to show good reductions, with robbery showing a 19% reduction with 33 less victims of robbery, house burglaries show a 9% reduction with 28 less victims of burglary.
Under 25 violence shows a 15% reduction, with 23 less victims so far this year.’
Police resources are further being diverted to ensuring Erdington residents comply to the latest ‘rule of six’ COVID-19 restrictions are being obeyed. However, Inspector Chughtai explained fines will be given only as ‘a last resort’.
He said: ‘From the start of this pandemic, specifically around the policing of social distancing, our Chief Constable has been clear that enforcement will be a last resort, we will always look to engage, educate and encourage before we chose to enforce.’
For the latest COVID-19 guidelines visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do
And for the local restrictions visit www.gov.uk/guidance/birmingham-sandwell-and-solihull-local-restrictions
For a database of local support services during the coronavirus crisis, provided by the Erdington COVID-19 Taskforce, visit www.erdingtonlocal.com/covid-19-local-support
If you believe you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can seek help and advice via the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247
For more information visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk