Cygnet Family Law in Redcar is calling on Redcar MP Jacob Young to back the national proposal raised by two key commissioners, urging the government to make hotel rooms available to domestic abuse victims when refuges are full.

In a letter to the government, Dame Vera Baird, the victims commissioner for England and Wales, and Nicola Jacobs, the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, highlighted that, although refuges are the most appropriate place for victims to go, the current lockdown is impacting their capacity. Making empty hotel rooms available for those unable to access a refuge would allow them to leave their home should they need to.

The proposal was originally raised by Southall Black Sisters and Compassion in Politics, which approached hotels directly at the end of March.

This call to action comes as research released by Counting Dead Women revealed that over the first three weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, nearly three times as many women were killed by men than during the same period in the past ten years.

The research identified 16 killings between 23 March and 12 April. During this timeframe in the past decade, this figure is approximately five.

Janet Ford, a senior solicitor at Cygnet Law who works closely with victims of domestic violence, said: “At Cygnet Law, we’re fully backing Dame Vera Baird and Nicola Jacobs’ urgent request to the government to make hotel rooms available to victims of domestic violence when refuges are full, and we’re calling for Redcar to lead the charge and set an example for the rest of the country to follow.

“As we can see from the Counting Dead Women figures, there is an increase in people dying during the lockdown, which strongly suggests that instances of domestic abuse are increasing as these victims have no escape. We have also seen an increase in domestic violence cases and in police protection orders. This is an incredibly concerning, but sadly unsurprising, development.

“We agree with the commissioners that our local refuges are working hard to support as many people as they can and are the most appropriate place for victims to seek help in the first instance, but if these are unavailable due to increased demand, there must be an alternative to get those who need it to safety.

“As our colleagues at EVA Women’s Aid have said in the past, coronavirus and lockdown do not make people abuse, it is the responsibility of the abuser that they have chosen to act in that way. However, the situation has reduced victims’ capacity to escape, and the government must step in to help, before these shocking death figures increase even further.”