Q: I believe my neighbour is abusing his wife and children and getting away with it because of the COVID lockdown. I hear him shouting and swearing at them and I haven’t seen them outside in weeks, although he regularly goes out and comes back with bags of beer cans. I phoned the police, but they say they need more than hearsay to investigate. There are twins in the age group that could have gone back to school this week, but they haven’t gone and in the current situation the school is unlikely to ask why. If I get an opportunity to speak to her or slip her a note, what can I advise her to do?
A: This is a worrying story and we know that domestic violence has increased hugely since the COVID lockdown. If your neighbour is suffering abuse and could contact the police when her husband is out, they would try and help her. Alternatively, she could contact a family solicitor. Despite conducting interviews mainly by telephone or video link, family solicitors, particularly in England, are able to arrange emergency appointments, maintaining social distancing and following government protocols. They are also able to obtain emergency injunctions to protect domestic abuse victims within just a few hours. More importantly, orders can be obtained without any notice to the perpetrators of the abuse.
We know that the COVID lockdown has made it more difficult for abuse victims to access support, not least because their abusers are more easily able to confine them and restrict their movements. So, sadly, in their case, social distancing actually puts the victims in more danger. This means it is vital that people like neighbours remain vigilant and recognise when there is a problem, and it is vital that domestic abuse victims have access to legal advice and support. As family solicitors we can also advise on safe accommodation for them.
This question has been answered by Nathan Wright a Partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call Oswestry 01691 659194 or Wrexham 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and whilst our colleagues are well equipped to work remotely, due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.