Responding to the Covid-19 domestic abuse crisis: developing a rapid police evidence base

Research Institution / Organisation

City, University of London

In Collaboration With

Dr Kelly Johnson, Durham University; 7 police forces in England

Principal Researcher

Dr Katrin Hohl

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

June 2020

Research Context

​The project provides a near real-time evidence base to inform the police approach to the apparent surge in domestic violence and abuse (DA) triggered by the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.

Police case file data from seven diverse police forces are pooled to track the impact of the pandemic on DA, analysing changes in the risk factors, frequency, nature and profile of DA reported to police. These changes are mapped closely to shifts in the restrictions imposed during lockdown, transitional phases and post lockdown, when DA calls to police are expected to spike. The proposed study is the largest and most rigorous analysis of police DA case file data conducted anywhere in the world to date.

The statistical analysis is complemented by regular focused semi-structured phone interviews with police officers, to identify emerging challenges and best practice in the frontline response to DA. The mixed-methods study addresses urgent questions on the impact of Covid-19 on DA, which may have significant implications for the complex task of accurate police risk assessment, victim safeguarding, and criminal prosecution as the Covid-19 pandemic evolves.

Research Methodology

​Mixed methods approach combining advanced statistical analysis of large-scale police data and semi-structured officer interviews.

Interim reports and publications

Written evidence to the Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee "Home Office preparedness for Covid-19 (coronavirus) consultation", February 2021

"A crisis exposed – how Covid-19 is impacting domestic abuse reported to the police", December 2020

Date due for completion

December 2021
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