WEST Midlands Police have arrested around 400 domestic abuse suspects in the last two weeks as they crack down on domestic violence during the coronavirus lockdown.

Domestic violence charities and women's refuges fear domestic violence could spike during the lockdown period as people are forced to spend more time at home.

Officers from West Midlands Police's Public Protection Units have been out and about to track down people wanted for questioning over domestic assaults, harassment and coercive control offences.

A spokesperson for the force said West Midlands Police has recorded a daily average of 119 domestic abuse crimes since the government’s order restricting outdoor activity to exercise and essential shopping on March 23.

Police say this is only slightly up on their normal average total – but the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls and online requests for help.

Superintendent Sally Simpson from our Public Protection Unit, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is always a priority for us – and our officers are out in communities right now looking to arrest suspects and protect vulnerable people.

“We’ve not seen much change in our domestic abuse reporting but we recognise that might change. The public are trying to adjust to remaining indoors for long periods but not everybody has a relationship free of abuse. Not every home, unfortunately, is a safe place.

"One of the things we’re conscious of is that many abuse survivors may use time away from their abuser, like the school run or work, to reach out to police or support services.

“And if those opportunities have largely been removed it could well be sufferers aren’t finding the opportunity to report.”

Supt Simpson urged anyone experiencing domestic abuse to get in touch with the police, charities or victim support agencies.

She added: “If people are worried about how to phone us – perhaps they’re living with their abuser – they can speak to us through Live Chat messaging on our website.

“There is also lots of valuable support and advice online on our website and support groups like Women’s Aid.

“It’s also possible to contact us on 999 without speaking. You will be directed to silent solutions and if you dial 55 when prompted the police will know you need help and are unable to speak. Our call handlers are specially trained to glean information from callers even if they are unable to talk.

“That could be by coughing or tapping the phone in response to questions. We’re here to help and we will do all we can to protect people at risk of domestic abuse or violence.”

People can message police on Live Chat via WMP Online and for more online help search Domestic Abuse on the West Midlands Police website.