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Durham University

Durham University News


Responding to the Covid-19 domestic abuse crisis

(11 August 2020)

Our researchers are leading a national project to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse and help reduce harm.

The number of domestic abuse victims contacting domestic abuse support organisations in England doubled within the first three weeks of lockdown in March/April 2020.

But police forces believe a large number of victims are still not reporting their abuse to the police due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures.

Tracking and analysing

Our sociology researchers are working with City, University of London, to track the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse.

This involves analysing changes to the nature and extent of domestic abuse reported to the police, as well as changes in police interventions.

Researchers will also be interviewing police officers to understand their response to domestic abuse incidents, the challenges that have arisen during the pandemic, and to identify areas of best practice across police forces.


The research will use police data from seven different forces to analyse and understand the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse, making this study the largest and most rigorous analysis of police case file data conducted anywhere in the world to date.

The research directly addresses current knowledge gaps in how lockdown and social distancing measures impact domestic abuse, and provides robust evidence for domestic abuse strategies in the event of another pandemic or similar event.

The findings also have the potential to help the UK Government weigh up the benefits of lockdown restrictions versus their impact on vulnerable people.

The research will provide guidance to police forces on handling domestic abuse incidents and inform planning and allocation of resources.

Partner project

The project brings together several organisations, including the Home Office, the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs Council, seven police forces across England, and domestic abuse third-sector stakeholders.

Partners will share the project findings with decision-makers who can influence and inform national domestic abuse strategy.

It is hoped that the project can help to reduce significant harm to domestic abuse victims and their children.

 Find out more

  • This project is led by Dr Kelly Johnson from our Sociology department, and Dr Katrin Hohl from City, University of London.
  • Find out more about Durham’s Covid-19 research
  • Interested in studying with our Sociology department? Find out more here
  • The project has received funding from the UK Research and Innovation Covid-19 fund