Calls about domestic abuse highest on record following lockdown increase

Crucial moment for ministers to listen to experts and recognise children’s experiences in the Domestic Abuse Bill1


Contacts to our helpline about the impact of domestic abuse on children have increased by 32% since the start of the lockdown, to an average of one an hour.2

Increased risks during the crisis further highlight the need for the government to amend the law to recognise how violence and coercive control can affect children and that they must have access to specialist support to recover.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is at committee stage and in its current form fails to recognise the needs of children affected by domestic abuse despite repeated calls from multiple experts, including the Domestic Abuse, Children’s and Victim’s Commissioners, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.

New analysis of 11 serious case reviews, submitted to MPs as they are set to scrutinise the Bill this week, shows children have been seriously harmed and even died because domestic abuse was not always considered to be a child protection issue.3

Since the lockdown 1,500 adults contacted the NSPCC Helpline about the risks to children who are trapped behind closed doors. 58% led to referrals or a referral update to the local authority.4

In some cases, fears about the virus were exploited to withhold access to children, cut off contact to family and friends, and monitor movement under the pretext of keeping them safe from the virus. Those affected said this made it difficult to leave and speak out.

We are also calling for a statutory duty for local agencies to deliver specialist community-based services for these children to recover.

Worried about a child?

Find out more

"This crisis has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse. The Bill has the chance to transform the help available for these children but, despite pleas from multiple experts, the Government is deliberately turning a blind eye to the impact it has on children. The Government should grasp the landmark opportunity offered by the Domestic Abuse Bill and ensure children get the protection and support they need."
Emily Hilton, NSPCC Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer

"I’m really scared of my dad, especially when he’s been drinking. Sometimes he gets really angry and throws things at my mum. It’s been getting worse since the coronavirus and I worry a lot. I have no idea what to do as I can't escape because of the lockdown."
Boy, aged 15, Childline

Abuse can stop with a call to the NSPCC Helpline. Will you help us answer every call?


Names have been changed to protect identities. Any photographs are posed by models.


  1. 1. In May 2020 the NSPCC helpline received its highest number of contacts about domestic abuse since the current recording method began, at the start of our current strategy, in 2016.

  2. 2. The calls increased 32% from an average of around 140 contacts a week earlier this year (6 Jan to 22 March), to an average of around 185 contacts a week since the government’s stay at home guidance was issued. 

  3. 3. In one report, a woman needed to leave her home for her own safety but couldn’t take her child with her and professionals did not consider the risks for the children who were left behind being cared for by the abuser.
    Spokespeople and identifiable case studies are available upon request.

  4. 4. Between 23 March and 17 May 2020, the NSPCC helpline received 1,500 contacts about adults worried about the impact of domestic abuse on children.