Domestic Abuse during COVID19: response of police and criminal justice agencies to the Shadow Pandemic

The Domestic Abuse Alliance is pleased to have supported the research team at Liverpool University, which has completed an 18-month UKRI funded project investigating police and criminal justice responses to domestic abuse during the COVID pandemic.

This project was designed to investigate how the police responded to the anticipated rise in domestic abuse during the lockdown period and how the courts would deliver justice to victims once they reopened.

Key findings include:

  • The role of digital technology in providing the best service for victims;
  • Connecting with victims to understand what worked and needs now to become embedded as normal practice;
  • The importance of preparing Evidence Led Prosecution (ELP) files in all domestic abuse cases; and
  • Investment to reduce court capacity and address the significant backlog in the courts.

The research team found the pandemic and its effects in responding to domestic abuse have been more notable for some parts of the criminal justice system than other. Changes in patterns of offending and the subsequent demand on police forces provided the resources to respond to domestic abuse in different ways, including the introduction of innovative digital practices.

However, the courts system remains challenged in its capacity to move forward from the COVID pandemic.

Further information about the study can be found on the project website.