Violence fuelled by domestic abuse increased last year despite a slump in overall crime due to the covid pandemic, official figures show.
Violent crime increased by three per cent in the year to June 2020 from 1.69 million to 1.75 million, while domestic abuse rose by 10 per cent to 611,298.
They were one of only three main crime types to increase with the others being murders, up from 668 to 725, and drug offences up by 21 per cent.
By contrast, the overall total number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales fell by four per cent to around 5.8 million in the year to June, largely due to the sharp decline in offences during lockdown.
Sarah Davidge, of Women's Aid, said the nine per cent increase in domestic abuse offences during lockdown, from April to June, reflected the worsening experiences of women during the pandemic restrictions.
“This demand may rise further still with the domestic abuse bill as more victims are encouraged to report and seek help – so it is vital that public services such as the police, as well as specialist services, have the sustainable resourcing needed to respond,” she said.
The biggest rise in offences during lockdown was for drugs, up by 30 per cent from 44,064 in April to June 2019 to 57,132 during the same period this year.
Police chiefs attributed it to a combination of a blitz on drug dealers during the height of the covid restrictions as the decline in other crimes freed up officers and the empty streets that made it harder for the criminals to operate.
The rise was particularly evident in London where there was a 43 per cent rise in drug offences as the number of stop and searches in the capital nearly doubled from 24,000 in April to 44,000 in May.
One police chief described it as like “shooting fish in a barrel,” while Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: "People who aren't going out are asking for the drugs to come to them. That's putting the drug dealers more at risk and making them more obvious.”
Theft offences fell by 15 per cent in the year ending June 2020. There were also decreases in robbery offences (10 per cent down), sexual offences (seven per cent down) and criminal damage and arson (eight per cent down).
Lockdown from April to June saw overall crime fall by 19 per cent to 1,242,194 offences from 1,533,776 in the same quarter last year.
Theft fell by 43 per cent to 280,087, while robbery offences decreased by 47 per cent to 11,961. Sexual offences fell by 24 per cent in April to June 2020 to 31,997 offences while criminal damage and arson was down by 23 per cent to 108,604 offences
The ONS said: "Police-reported crime levels were relatively stable from July 2019 to March 2020 and the annual decrease was mainly driven by substantial falls during the April to June 2020 period, particularly in theft offences."
Billy Gazard, from the ONS centre for crime and justice, said the drop in crime levels were "mainly driven by changes in society after coronavirus lockdown restrictions were put in place."
He added: "The most substantial reductions were seen in theft and robbery offences during the April to June quarter. "There are indications that crime levels in June were moving back towards pre-lockdown levels."