Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on reporting of rape, serious sexual offences, and domestic abuse in one English police force
Authors: Spence, R., Horvath, M.A.H., Dalton, C.T. and Davies, K.
Journal: Journal of Gender-Based Violence
Research suggests that during the COVID-19 pandemic reports of rapes and serious sexual offences to the authorities have declined while calls to domestic violence helplines have soared. This article focuses on the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on reporting to the police in cases of rape, serious sexual offences and domestic abuse in one police force in England. Data from the force's crime reporting system was provided from 2018 to 2021, including over 10,000 reports of rapes and serious sexual offences and over 5,000 reports of domestic abuse. An Interrupted Time Series analysis was used to evaluate the impact of lockdown on reporting rates, with segmented regression to measure the changes in reporting before and after the start of the pandemic in March 2020. This article is the first of its kind to explore the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and domestic violence at more than an aggregate level, demonstrating how COVID-19 has had a variable impact on different groups of victims, and how stay at home orders specifically have impacted on reporting rates. These data provide novel and valuable insights into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the reporting of sexual violence and domestic abuse.