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“Government has taken steps in the right direction but must go further” says City MP as he works with local domestic abuse campaigner

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan has worked with local activist Kirsty Mellor to bring government’s attention to the increase in domestic abuse amid this pandemic, while acknowledging the Home Secretary’s efforts so far.

The pair have issued a letter directly to the Home Secretary outlining what Covid-19 means for domestic abuse, the areas where improvement is needed in the current system, and to push for more detail on how the government plans to address the issue.

The letter follows news that The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has recorded a 25% increase in cases, while visits to the website have increased by 150%. And Women’s Aid has recorded a 41% spike in traffic.

Mr Morgan said:

“The UK’s biggest domestic abuse charities have issued chilling warnings over concerns on the risk of increased incidences across the nation.

Government has taken a step in the right direction in acknowledging the danger and in issuing new guidance, which was welcome. However, we need to see detailed planning on how government will fund, resource and support domestic abuse services amidst this pandemic.

This is a matter of life and death for women and men across our country. That is why, alongside Kirsty Mellor, I am applying scrutiny to government’s decision making on this and pushing for further action. I remain committed to working constructively with Government to ensure the interests of those vulnerable to abuse are always put first.”

Since 2010, most councils in England, Wales and Scotland reduced funding for refuges, with cuts of nearly £7m over the past eight years. And the situation is getting worse: an estimated 21,084 referrals to all refuges in England were refused in 2017-18 because there was insufficient funding or no space for the victim.

Local campaigner, Kirsty Mellor said:

“Domestic abuse is a stain on our society. Prior to this pandemic case numbers were rising while refuge numbers were dwindling.

Action was needed before, now there are increased pressures, a radical strategy is necessary to avoid an unprecedented domestic abuse crisis.

While the government is acknowledging the problem, it must do more. I hope we can all work together to come up with viable solutions for the good of our community.”

The newly appointed Shadow Home Secretary also undertook decisive action by putting pressure on his government opposite number by calling for increased funding, more refuge space and an urgent review of current practices.

Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas Symonds MP in his letter said:

“I am writing to ask you to work with colleagues across government to urgently bring forward a package of emergency bespoke financial support for the organisations who are doing vital frontline work to ensure that they can provide a crucial safety net to some of the most at risk women, children and communities throughout this crisis.”

Information about domestic abuse services locally can be found here: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/environmental-health/crime-and-nuisance/domestic-abuse