West Midlands Police see 'staggering' rise in domestic abuse cases

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West Midlands Police saw an increase of 60% in domestic abuse cases this Christmas

Over Christmas, police in the West Midlands said they were called to a "staggering" 1,250 incidents of domestic abuse.

The force said it was a 60% increase on the same period last year.

Between Christmas Eve and 29 December, West Midlands Police made 191 arrests, which it said accounted for almost 30% of the force's total arrests.

Birmingham MP Jess Phillips told the House of Commons on Thursday refuges were under huge pressure.

Escaping domestic abuse is specifically listed by government as one of a handful of "reasonable excuses" for leaving home during the latest lockdown.

Supt Jenny Skyrme said it was important nobody in this position felt "isolated or trapped in their own home".

Ask For 'ANI'

"We have not reduced our response to victims during this pandemic and we, along with many other agencies, are encouraging anyone who needs help to escape an abusive relationship to contact us," she said.

A scheme known as Ask For ANI - standing for Action Needed Immediately - has been developed by the Home Office, allowing victims of domestic abuse to access help by using the codeword at their local pharmacy.

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Ask for Ani: Victoria Atkins explains new scheme

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said the force had seen a "huge surge" in cases in the last 12 months

"My message to those suffering is report it, there is help available for you," he said.

Contributing to a session in the House of Commons, Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley called on ministers to investigate the available capacity - or lack of it - at women's refuges after she failed to find an available bed.

In response, the government said extra funding announced in April had resulted in an extra 1,900 spaces being made available.

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