Safeguarding During COVID-19: Cyber Crime and Domestic Violence


Domestic Violence

The media has reported a massive increase of domestic violence in Britain since the outbreak of Covid19, with the BBC stating that calls to the National Domestic Abuse and other helplines have risen by 49% and killings doubled since lock down was introduced. Commonly this is unseen violence until it causes real physical injury and death. Many perpetrators already use isolation "as a tool of control" states Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge.

She said last year 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse, and “while in lockdown or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom. Domestic abuse isn't always physical - it's a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual.”

Following the ‘surge’ in violence, the BBC states that an MPs Report called for a government strategy on domestic abuse during the pandemic.  MPs also said ‘safe spaces’, where victims can seek help, should be rolled out to supermarkets and other shops.  The Home Office is said to be increasing funding to support helplines and online services and it has been reported that Boots will open a safe consulting room for women to use. Anyone needing help can ask staff at the counter to use the consultation room, where they will be able to contact services for help and advice.

Researchers at the Counting Dead Women Project told MPs 14 women and two children had been killed in the first three weeks of lockdown. The figure is the largest number of killings in a three-week period for 11 years and more than double the average rate, they said. Male victims of abuse have also been calling for help in greater numbers, with the Men's Advice Line stating calls have risen 35% in the first week of lockdown. Without a comprehensive government strategy to cope with the consequences of this violence, the home affairs select committee said "we will be dealing with serious consequences for a generation".

It said the strategy should include raising awareness, prevention, victim support, housing and a criminal justice response, supported with dedicated funding and ministerial leadership.
MPs have also called for more help to allow victims to access support at times when they may be unable to use the phone or ask friends for help. []

Recently shown on the BBC News was the arrest of an alleged perpetrator as neighbours had apparently heard screaming coming from a house nearby and informed the police.  So this is important for all of us to heed – and trusting that those who read this are safe themselves - to keep an open ear and eye out for any possibility of abuse in your neighbourhood which is difficult at this time because of social isolation.  A woman with facial bruises could well use a face mask to hide them and we wouldn’t notice.  There is a tendency too when we go out, I have noticed, not to look at those who pass by and many people turn their faces away presumably because of fear of catching the virus.    However if in any doubt please contact Police Scotland and let them deal with any possible situation – and further information can be obtained from:

The problem with lockdown and being in an abusive situation is being able to leave or to phone for help.  Here are some useful phone numbers should you need help – the first especially for those who are in a violent situation cannot speak freely and by pressing 55 the operator is prompted to forward the call appropriately without having to ask for help.
 Police: 999 press 55 when prompted if you can't speak
 Refuge UK wide 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
 Scotland National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriages 24-hour helpline: 0800 027 1234

Cyber Crime

There is a massive increase in cyber crime being reported since Covid 19 where fraudsters send victims own passwords in ‘sextortion’ scam.  On 23rd April ‘actionfraud’ reported that 9,473 reports had been received so far in April with 200 reports in the last week of the month.  This sextortion phishing scam, first identified by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in July 2018 continues to be reported to Action Fraud in high numbers. The emails contain the victims’ own password in the subject line and demand a payment in Bitcoin to prevent videos, of the victim on their computer visiting adult websites, being shared.  

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
“Sextortion scams are a type of phishing attack where people are coerced to pay a ransom, normally in Bitcoin. The messages can look particularly convincing because they often include the recipient’s genuine password.
“The criminals sending these emails are ruthless, unscrupulous individuals who don’t care about the impact of their actions on victims. They seek to exploit people’s emotions - shaming and scaring the recipient enough, that they make a payment.
“If you receive an email that threatens you, your family, or your property in any way, and asks you to make a Bitcoin payment, don’t take the bait.”
• Do not reply to the email or click on any links contained within it. Instead, report it to: and then delete it.
• Do not be tempted to make the Bitcoin payment. Doing so may encourage the criminal to contact you again for more money.
• If you have made the Bitcoin payment, then report it to your local police force by calling 101.
For more information, visit:

Keep safe and please speak to someone if you are feeling isolated, frightened or unhappy. Don’t try and go it alone and feel you can tough it out.  It doesn’t always work and sharing any problems and asking for advice is not a sign of weakness – it is important.  Do let me know, or the Bishop or the Provincial Safeguarding Officers, Donald Urquhart and Daphne Audsley if you have any concerns – below their contact details.

Email : 
Tel:  0131 2256357
Mobile 07702 793553 and www

Denise Herbert (Revd)
Brechin Diocese Safeguarding Officer

Categories: Reports on events