POLICE in Barnsley anticipate a rise in domestic abuse reports as restrictions continue to ease - after bosses revealed they believe victims have had little chance to call due to long spells spent at home during lockdown.

Officers in the town are working alongside the Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS) in a bid to encourage victims to come forward.

Latest figures obtained by the Chronicle - from December 2020 to February 2021 - show 40 emergency domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs) were issued to alleged perpetrators.

Because the DVPN is a police-issued notice, it is effective from the time of issue, thereby giving the victim the immediate support they require in such a situation.

Within 48 hours of it being served on the perpetrator, an application by police to a magistrates’ court for a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) must be heard.

A DVPO - of which 35 were handed out during the three-month period - prevents the perpetrator from returning to an address and from having contact with the victim.

A police report said: “It would appear that there is some correlation between lockdowns and less reported domestic abuse cases, possibly because more time is spent at home and victims have less opportunity to call.

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“To tackle this, we offer victims alternative ways to report - such as the online portal - but we also need to be aware that there may be an increase in reporting over the coming months as the lockdown is released, as previously seen in July and August last year.

“Protecting victims and preventing further harm to them and children exposed to domestic abuse is one of our highest priorities.

“Police in Barnsley, alongside partners, continue to invest in and seeks to continually improve our response to domestic abuse.

“Suspects are monitored on a daily basis and the district’s tasking team provide support in locating and arresting high-risk perpetrators.

“We have worked hard to improve the quality of the DVPNs presented to courts and as a result, have maintained a strong conversion rate from DVPNs into DVPOs.”

Barnsley’s arrest rate for domestic abuse has shown ‘continued improvement’ and is now sustained at over 55 per cent through ‘strong supervision and governance’, according to the report, with victims’ satisfaction rates at 80 per cent.

“However, we know that it is the timeliness of the arrest, and not just the fact that the offender has been arrested, that makes a difference to the victim and potentially increases the probability of getting the right outcome,” it added.

“As a result we are now focusing on timeliness of arrest, corresponding outcomes and are developing a product to provide us with that insight.

“Feedback from officers and staff has been positive and it is anticipated that this investment will enable staff to better identify and understand domestic abuse, recognise controlling behaviours and improve service delivery for victims.

“Once the DVPO is issued by a court, our neighbourhood policing teams are tasked with undertaking compliance checks, which has not only increased their knowledge and awareness of perpetrators in their area but also provided consistency and more opportunities for intervention.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, told the Chronicle the issue remains high on officers’ agendas.

“Restrictions on movement over the last 12 months have meant that families have been cooped up at home for long stretches of time, putting huge pressure on relationships,” he said.

“I give as much support as I can to those organisations in Barnsley that help people caught up in domestic abuse, such as IDAS.

“We hope to support as many organisations as possible in order to reach anyone who has found themselves a victim.”

* For further information and advice about how to support a friend or family member, visit idas.org.uk. You can also contact IDAS on its live chat service, every weekday 3pm to 6pm, by email at info@idas.org.uk, or on its 03000 110110 helpline.