The UK Government has released new funding, aiming at helping the victims of rape and domestic abuse, and to support police forces, during the pandemic and beyond.

The Ministry of Justice has announced an additional £40m for specialist support services for rape and domestic abuse victims, to help support organisations recruit more staff, keep helplines open for longer and adapt to remote counselling where necessary , ensuring help is available for those who need it.

£16m will fund the recruitment of more independent sexual violence and domestic abuse advisers across the country.

The investment comes as charities have reported a 200% increase in calls and people accessing web chat services since the first lockdown, with some victims feeling at greater risk of harm or deciding to report abuse for the first time.

Justice Minister Alex Chalk said:

“For many victims this pandemic has been an inescapable nightmare in which they often feel trapped and at greater risk of harm.

“Their protection remains an absolute priority and this funding, backed by our new campaign, should mean no victim is left to suffer alone.”

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has also announced additional funding, in the form of £60m to support police forces in England and Wales, to help pay for costs incurred due to the pandemic, including overtime and making police stations COVID-secure.

This brings the total amount of funding available to forces since the start of the pandemic to nearly £200 million.

The Home Secretary said:

“Our police officers have worked tirelessly to keep the country’s streets safe while enforcing the coronavirus regulations to protect the NHS and save lives.

“We are committed to supporting them as they continue this crucial activity and are providing specific funding for coronavirus costs.”