This article investigates the police response to intimate partner violence (IPV) during the first lockdown in England (23 March–30 June 2020), a time when more people were confined to their homes and rates of IPV increased globally (). Having gained access to data for domestic abuse-flagged incidents from a south-eastern police force, this research compares quantitative data for 6808 incidents during the first lockdown in England with 6408 incidents during the equivalent 2019 timeframe. Quantitative analysis was conducted by comparing descriptive statistics and chi-squared testing.
This study finds that age distribution changed for victims and suspects, with IPV decreasing among younger age groups and increasing within older age categories. Shifts occurred in the categorisation of IPV crimes with an increase in crimes that can be committed remotely, most notably stalking and malicious communications. Additionally, the risk level differed for IPV incidents, with a reduction in incidents recorded as medium- and high-risk. Whereas, standard-risk incidents rose substantially, causing a change in the distribution of risk levels across reported incidents. This shift was reflected in fewer arrests, except among higher-risk incidents which maintained higher arrest rates. Official outcomes similarly decreased, with fewer court disposals and more simple cautions.