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Priti Patel announces extra help for domestic abuse victims amid Coronavirus lockdown

Priti Patel announces extra help for domestic abuse victims amid Coronavirus lockdown

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has launched a new public awareness campaign and announced extra help for domestic abuse victims amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

During her first time presenting Downing Street's daily Coronavirus press conference, Ms Patel said that around £2 million of funding will be provided to help the operations and providing of domestic abuse helplines and online support.

The Home Secretary said charities have reported a surge in activity related to domestic abuse since social distancing guidelines came into force, adding that "in the last week the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported a 120% increase in the number of calls it received in one 24-hour period." She said that while total crime has dropped as a result of people following the stay at home orders, criminals are adapting to exploit the virus - including through online child abuse, acquisitive crimes perpetrated by fraudsters and domestic abuse.

Speaking at the press conference, Priti Patel said;

"Coronavirus has opened Britain’s enormous heart and shown our love and compassion for one another as we come together to help those most in need,"

"I am now asking this nation to use that amazing compassion and community spirit to embrace those trapped in the horrific cycle of abuse.

"And to help us all look out for those who need help, we have created a symbol of hope – a handprint with a heart on – so that people can easily show that we will not tolerate abuse as a society, and that we stand in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse.

"I would urge everyone to share it on social media or in the windows of your home, alongside a link to the support available, to demonstrate just how much this country cares.

"And to show victims of domestic abuse: you are not alone."

Ms Patel urged anyone in immediate danger to phone 999 and enter '55' on a mobile if they are unable to talk.

Overall, there has been a 21% drop in crime in the past four weeks compared to the same period last year, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council Martin Hewitt said at the press conference. He added that while the majority of people are following lockdown measures and, police from 37 forces in England and Wales had issued 1,084 fines as of Thursday related to breaches of Coronavirus regulations. 

Mr Hewitt also praised the work of police officers for their work in looking after vulnerable people in their communities, as well as fighting crime.

According to latest figures announced at the press conference on Saturday, 334,974 tests for the COVID-19 Coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK. 78,991 people have tested positive for the virus, and 20,101 people are currently being treated in hospital. The number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for COVID-19 now stands at 9,875.

At the press conference, Ms Patel was asked twice if she would apologise to NHS staff and their families over the lack of "necessary PPE" available. In response, she said;

"I'm sorry if people feel that there have been failings. I will be very, very clear about that.

"But at the same time, we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic right now.

"It is inevitable that the demand and the pressures on PPE and demand for PPE are going to be exponential.  They are going to be incredibly high.

"And of course we are trying to address that as a government. I think that is right."

She added that the government is working to provide PPE more widely, including by working with the Health and Safety Executive, Public Health England and groups across the supply chain.

Ms Patel also said it would be wrong to speculate on when lockdown restrictions, which have now been in place for nearly three weeks, would be lifted.

 
Photo Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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