#YouAreNotAlone, will aim to reassure those affected by domestic abuse that support services remain available during this difficult time Image Open Government Licence v3.0

Social distancing and isolation may amplify coercive and controlling behaviour or stricter routines

Bedfordshire Police is anticipating a rise in reports of domestic abuse due to the stay home restrictions in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The force is reassuring victims across the county, in the many different communities, that support is still available.

Despite the pandemic, and together with its partner agencies, it will continue to share information on how to make a report and to find help. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Dadd, head of the force’s Emerald team, dedicated to the investigation of domestic abuse, said:

“Whatever form domestic abuse takes; be it physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial, the investigation of domestic abuse is a high priority for the force, and never more so than at this time.

“Since the UK lockdown measures, we have not seen the rise in reports in Bedfordshire, as has been experienced globally, but we expect it is coming. Sadly, figures show that those living with domestic abuse do not always report incidents immediately and now, with fewer opportunities to get away from an abuser to find help, that delay could be lengthy.

“Although we are all facing this extraordinary situation, our existing processes and services are still working to investigate, and support those at risk from these high harm crimes, and we wish to give victims the confidence and the platform to speak out. Especially those in some of our under-reported and harder to reach communities.

“We continue to work with our partners across the county, in the local authorities, charities and help groups, to ensure that support is readily accessible and available to those that need it.”

Community members, using the many different languages spoken across Bedfordshire, have recorded a series of video messages. These are available on YouTube and will be shared on social media.

The campaign is also being supported by all three local authorities. Cllr James Jamieson, leader of the Central Bedfordshire Council, Dave Hodgson, mayor of Bedford Borough, and Cllr Hazel Simmons, leader of Luton Council, released a joint statement supporting the campaign:

“We know that right now, some people are living with abuse and in fear, and whether you are experiencing abuse yourself, or you are worried for someone you know, there is always help available. No one needs to suffer in silence.”

If you have concerns about a person’s behaviour towards another, or you fear for someone’s safety please contact Bedfordshire Police via the 101 service.

Always call 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To find out more information and advice about domestic abuse please visit the Force’s information pages.

Signpost Hub

Victims of domestic abuse can also contact the Signpost Hub for free and confidential support. This is whether the abuse has been reported or not.

The Signpost Hub’s experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice.

Often just talking to someone, especially one who is not family or a friend, can help victims, or those affected, make sense of what has happened and find a way to help cope and recover

They can provide a safe, neutral place for victims to voice their fears, worries and emotions. Their emotional support is confidential and non-judgemental. They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey.

For further information or to get in contact visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com/hub.