New codeword campaign to help victims of domestic abuse seek immediate support

A new codeword scheme will help protect families at risk of domestic abuse throughout the coronavirus lockdown and beyond, it has been announced.

The new scheme – developed in collaboration with the Victims’ Commissioner, Domestic Abuse Commissioner and crisis support charities SafeLives and Hestia – will enable victims in danger to get help from shop workers by using a specific phrase.

According to reports, the Government will work with business groups, including the National Pharmacy Association and British Retail Consortium, to raise awareness of the scheme by training retail staff to recognise the codeword and react accordingly.

Full details of the scheme are expected later this month.

The campaign comes after research revealed that the number of domestic abuse cases rose rapidly in the three months to December 2019. The figures show that the number of new domestic violence cases jumped by 21 per cent, while new domestic violence remedy orders increased by 15 per cent.

Commenting on figures, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “While the necessary social distancing guidelines are keeping the majority of us safe, they are amplifying danger for others.

“Protecting vulnerable people from the most sickening crimes such as child sexual abuse and domestic abuse has been my priority since the very start of this crisis.”

The new campaign forms part of sweeping reforms designed to protect families at risk of domestic abuse. This includes establishing a new statutory definition of domestic abuse – “emphasising that it can be more than just physical violence”, providing police with new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Domestic Abuse Protection Notices, and placing a statutory duty on local authorities to provide support to victims of domestic abuse.

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