Neighbours urged to call police if they hear domestic abuse

Neighbours who fear that domestic abuse is being inflicted in a home nearby were today urged to call the police as the Met warned that the coronavirus lockdown could be making it harder for some victims to seek help.

Commander Sue Williams, the head of safeguarding at Scotland Yard, said that officers also want family and friends “to use their own curiosity” and raise the alarm if they are worried about someone they know.

Her call came as she disclosed that “high harm” domestic abuse crimes in London have fallen despite an overall small rise in reported offences since the Covid-19 pandemic led to the imposition of restrictions on leaving home.

Ms Williams said that the rate at which offenders were being arrested had also increased, with around 600 suspected abusers each week being caught. Police had also secured 96 domestic violence protection orders from the courts since the start of last month.

She added that perpetrators would not be allowed to “hide behind the lockdown” but appealed to the public to help officers identify victims who might be struggling to reveal their plight while confined in their homes: “If people hear something that’s not quite right, call us or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

Met figures show that there were 3,355 reports of domestic abuse offences in the two weeks to April 16. That is four per cent higher than the same period in 2019, although the force emphasised that because the statistics fluctuate there is so far “no discernible” trend since the lockdown began.

A man has been jailed after he claimed to have Covid-19 and spat at officers while being arrested over a domestic assault.

Brandon Wallace, 21, of no fixed address, was arrested in Barking at about 11.45am on Monday on suspicion of domestic assault on a woman and criminal damage to her property, police said.

During his arrest he said he had the virus and spat at two officers, leading him to be arrested for assault on emergency workers.

He was later charged, and admitted while in custody that he did not have Covid-19 or any of its symptoms.

He pleaded guilty at Barkingside Magistrates Court yesterday to assaulting a woman, criminal damage and assaulting emergency workers and was sentenced to six months in prison.

East Area’s Inspector Alexis Manley said: “It says much about the attitude of this man that, in addition to targeting somebody close to him, he was also willing to make false claims about Covid-19 and to spit at officers.”