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Domestic abuse cases have risen by almost 6% in Cheshire during the Covid-19 pandemic, police figures show.

Various periods of lockdown, restrictions and pressures on families have escalated incidents of domestic abuse in the county.

In 2020 from April 1 to October 31, there were 10,103 domestic abuse crimes recorded by Cheshire Police.

This compares with 9,533 over the same period in 2018.

Cheshire Police works in partnership with local authorities and other partner organisations with the county-wide “Open The Door” domestic abuse campaign.

Since the first lockdown, the partnership has been hosting live weekly domestic abuse web chats on the Cheshire Police Facebook channel, with partner representatives forming a panel of experts to answer submitted questions.

The Open The Door live Facebook web chat dates for this Christmas period are:

Wednesday 16 December from 1pm to 2pm
Friday 18 December from 1pm to 2pm
Monday 21 December from 1pm to 2pm
Wednesday 23 December from 1pm to 2pm
Tuesday 29 December from 1pm to 2pm
Wednesday 30 December from 1pm to 2pm

More than 160,000 people have been reached to date, with the audience comprising around 70% women and 30% men.

The website – www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk – has seen a more than 90% increase in new users since the first lockdown began in March, with 67% women and 33% men.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire David Keane said: “We recognise the damage domestic abuse crimes have on victims and their families.

“This year there is the added concern people not previously affected may have found themselves subject to domestic abuse due to additional pressures households are finding themselves experiencing.

“We have introduced the additional web chats over Christmas because it is of utmost importance that we do all that we can to give everyone who is affected by domestic abuse the confidence to speak out and seek support.”

Open The Door enables victims or friends and families of victims to know who to turn to if they are experiencing, or suspect someone is experiencing, abuse.

The dedicated website has seen a more than 90 per cent increase in new users since the first lockdown began in March, with 67 per cent female and 33 per cent male visitors.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Williams, the Force’s domestic abuse lead, said: “Domestic abuse is a top priority for Cheshire Police as we recognise the severe impact this crime has on everyone involved.

“There is a tremendous amount of work undertaken to protect victims of this crime, coupled with great support from our frontline staff, who are all trained regularly in this area of our work.

“Domestic abuse doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors.

“We are here, along with our partners, to help people get the help they need and to bring this hidden crime out into the open.

“Early intervention is key in preventing the devastation suffered by not only the immediate victims but to their children.”

The web chats can be found on the Cheshire Police Facebook page and questions can be submitted anonymously in advance to [email protected] or during the event on the Facebook page.

There is no need to register attendance.

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