Lancashire Police reassure county's residents force will not be impacted by coronavirus as domestic abuse charities warn Covid-19 will have 'serious impacts'

It's business as normal according to Lancashire Police, as the force continues to tackle crime and keep the public safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 5:00 pm

The force has said a range of processes have been created to make sure that it's able to continue running smoothly as more cases of Covid-19 are discovered across the county on a daily basis.

Dep Ch Constable Terry Woods said that the constabulary is working closely with Public Health England and the Government, who are leading the response to pandemic which has killed more than 200 people in the UK and thousands across the world.

Dep Ch Woods said: “We have worked with Public Health England and others to ensure police officers and staff have guidance on issues such as personal protection, working from home and the regulations around working hours.

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Police will continue throughout coronavirus pandemic

“The public expects us to plan for the reasonable worst case scenario, but we are not anticipating it. We are working closely with partners in the Lancashire Resilience Forum on the local response and as a force we are in a strong position to respond to times of staff shortages and increases in demand.

“We have tried and tested plans to respond to times of increased demand and reduced capacity that could include changing shift patterns, using special constables and moving officers around the county.

“This is a rapidly developing situation and we continue to take a lead from the Government and Public Health England.

Domestic violence charities have reassured Lancashire residents that phone lines will remain open as people continue to self isolate.

A joint statement from Women’s Aid, Imkaan, End Violence Against Women, Women’s Resource Centre, Rape Crisis, Respect and Safe Lives said: "As national organisations representing services delivering violence against women and girls (VAWG) services across the UK, we know COVID 19 will have serious impacts on the lives of women and children. We want to reassure survivors and local specialist services that we are here for you and we will be doing everything we can to support you during this challenging time.

"For women and children experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage, so called ‘honor based’ violence, child sexual abuse, FGM and other forms of VAWG, home is not always a place of safety. We know perpetrators will use infection control measures as a tool of coercive and controlling behavior. Access to support for women and children may also shrink further due to social isolation and those in poverty will be severely impacted. Measures to decrease social contact are likely to have significant mental health impacts on the population, and this could be acute for survivors coping and recovering from trauma."

The statement also said demand for domestic violence services rose in China following the outbreak of the disease.

It said: "Reports from China evidence the impact of COVID 19 on reports of domestic abuse and resulting demand for support services. This comes at a time when survivors are routinely unable to access the help they need and those experiencing multiple forms of discrimination – including black and minoritised women, women with insecure immigration status, disabled and LGBT survivors – face severe barriers to safety and support."

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: "While in lockdown or self-isolation, women, men and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom.

‘In the current climate, it is certainly more challenging for people suffering abuse. Lines of communication could be severely limited if people are unable to leave the home.

‘Refuge wants to reassure those experiencing abuse that they are not alone. Our services remain open and we have contingency plans in place for all of our services, including refuges, community-based services and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge.

If you are worried about a loved one, or about isolating with a perpetrator, call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or contact the Helpline via Refuge’s contact form at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.