Preston leads world study into Covid-related rise in domestic abuse

Lancashire academics are leading a world-wide research into the way different countries have dealt with domestic violence and abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Sonja Astbury
Monday, 7th December 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Monday, 7th December 2020, 4:19 pm
Professor Nicky Stanley will lead a global study into response to domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic
Professor Nicky Stanley will lead a global study into response to domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic

The new international study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation's rapid response to Covid-19, is being led by Professor Nicky Stanley and colleagues in the Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm at the University of Central Lancashire.

The 14-month long study will examine policy and practice responses in four countries: the UK, Australia, Ireland and South Africa.

The Preston-based team, along with researchers at the University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Australia, Trinity College Dublin and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, will work with domestic violence organisations and policy actors in all four countries to collect and compare different initiatives and policies for all family members living with domestic violence and abuse.

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Professor Stanley said: "The risks of living with domestic violence and abuse have increased under Covid-19 restrictions and support and services have become harder for victims and their families to access."

She added: "A range of responses at policy and practice levels have emerged. These differ across the world and little is known as yet about their take-up and impact. This study will fill an important gap in our knowledge."

As part of the project,t domestic abuse services and experts from across the UK will be asked to provide evidence and experience for the research, which will produce briefings and feedback for providers and policy makers throughout the study.

The project has been welcomed by Nicole Jacobs, the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales,

She said: "We know that victims of domestic abuse have faced much greater danger during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Many have felt lost, isolated and fearful and unable to access help or support. It is essential that we learn lessons from the response worldwide now so that we can bring about positive change that will help victims in times of future crisis.

"Given the Connect Centre’s considerable experience in this area, I believe this study will make a real difference to many people globally."

A final report will be available by January 2022.

The Connect Centre is based in UCLan's School of Social Work, Care and Community and works to bring to together researchers, practitioners and influencers to develop new ideas on preventing all forms of interpersonal violence and the harm that can result.

It is led by Professor Nicky Stanley and Dr Christine Barter and includes a group of cross-disciplinary researchers and PhD students.