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Domestic Abuse Concerns in light of Coronavirus Stay at Home Restrictions

It has been widely reported that incidents of domestic abuse have increased in various countries worldwide as a result of requirements to stay at home linked to the Coronavirus pandemic. There are therefore concerns that the Stay at Home restrictions recently introduced in the UK will cause a similar increase in domestic abuse here.

As a result of these concerns, the government has issued guidance providing links to various charities such as the National Domestic Abuse Helpline who can offer support to those at risk. This guidance can be found at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-and-domestic-abuse/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse

The government has also provided reassurance that whilst current advice, as a result of the Coronavirus, is to stay at home, this is not intended to prevent people who are at risk of or are experiencing domestic abuse from leaving their home to seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused – whether physically, emotionally or otherwise.

If an individual is in immediate danger then they should always call 999 first to seek assistance from the police. If unable to speak out loud they can then dial 55 to make clear that the call is a genuine emergency. This will transfer the call to the relevant police force who will assist without the individual having to speak.

In other cases, however, family solicitors may be able to assist. Although the Courts have had to change how they are working including the use of more telephone and video hearings, they remain open. This means that urgent injunction applications can still be issued as normal. The main types of injunction that may assist an individual suffering domestic abuse include Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders.

A Non-Molestation Order is an order that can protect individuals and children by prohibiting another person from doing various things such as being violent, threatening violence, being verbally abusive or causing harassment. The Court will generally grant a Non-Molestation Order provided that a genuine need for protection can be demonstrated. Any breach of a Non-Molestation Order is considered an arrestable offence for which the perpetrator can be fined, imprisoned or both. Although a Non-Molestation Order can be granted for an indefinite period, it is generally granted for a fixed period of around 12 months.

An Occupation Order can be made by the Court granting an individual the right to occupy a property and/or excluding another occupant from it. It can also regulate occupation of the property by saying who should occupy which rooms and when. Although an Occupation Order can be made for an indefinite period, depending on the circumstances, they are often only made for a period of 6 months or 12 months initially.

Legal Aid may well be available to assist with advice in relation to domestic abuse matters. You can check whether you may be eligible for legal aid online via https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid . If you are eligible for legal aid then you can find your nearest legal aid solicitors via https://find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk/

If you require any further information or advice regarding the above then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Domestic Abuse Concerns in light of Coronavirus Stay at Home Restrictions

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