Victim Support in Dorset say they have seen seen a rise in some types of crime during the pandemic, in particular domestic abuse and fraud.
‘Domestic abuse victims who might ordinarily be able to access support from agencies, family and friends are far more isolated, and unable to escape their abuser. The added pressures caused by financial issues, children at home, everyone living on top of each other and boredom have led to a pressure cooker type situation as tensions rise,’ said Rebecca Chaplain, Operations Manager for Victim Support in Dorset.
‘It’s important to recognise that these are generally not new cases, but there has been an escalation in severity and frequency since lockdown.’
Meanwhile conmen are also trying to cash in on the coronavirus crisis.
She said: ‘Sadly opportunists have used the pandemic to make money fraudulently from people who are already feeling vulnerable. Some of the scams we have heard of include emails purporting to be from the government to offer financial help such as tax relief or Covid testing. Texts, again claiming to be sent from the government suggesting that people need to pay a fine for breaking new lockdown rules, fraudulent pages asking for monetary donations for vaccine research or other causes and the list goes on.’
Rebecca Chaplain added: ‘At Victim Support Dorset we understand that in these unprecedented times people are feeling anxious and isolated, to become a victim of crime on top of this can be very difficult to cope with. If you’ve been affected by crime, we can give you the support you need to move forward. Our confidential and free service is available to all victims of crime across Dorset regardless of whether the crime has been reported or how long ago it happened.’
People can self-refer to the Victim Support service for one to one support with a trained caseworker or supporter by phoning 0300 3030163, open Mon to Fri 9-6 and late on Tues and Thurs until 8pm. You can also use VS’s confidential live chat service which can be accessed via https://www.victimsupport.org.uk. or contact the national support line free on 08 08 16 89 111 who are available 24/7.
‘Ordinarily our support can be face to face if preferred by our clients, but in line with social distancing guidelines all our support is now done over the phone. It’s still business as usual though and although our team are all working from home we are still supporting victims throughout the pandemic,’ said Rebecca Chaplain.
‘All our services are victim led, you will talk to a trained caseworker who will find out what your greatest priorities are and we tailor our support accordingly, working with our clients to achieve the best possible outcome. Some people just need one call, others are supported for a number of weeks. The effects of crime are varied and complicated, which is why our service does not have a one size fits all approach.’
Fraud can be reported through Action Fraud who have an online service, said Rebecca Chaplain. ‘Victim Support can provide emotional support – someone to talk things through with if you have been defrauded and practical advice on next steps or what to do to protect yourself moving forward. It’s really important for people to understand that some of these scams are extremely sophisticated, you haven’t been foolish or gullible by falling for them. It really isn’t your fault, at Victim Support we offer a non- judgemental and safe space for you to talk through what has happened to you and hopefully we can help you move past the crime and get on with your life.’