THERE are fears that domestic abuse and violence may be going unreported during the lockdown.

Sussex Police say there has been a slight drop across the county which they had not expected, but say it may be harder for those at risk to come forward.

A specialist team of officers has been set up to support people, while police have set up an awareness campaign at supermarkets.

New technology such as video conferencing has been set up to allow victims of abuse and violence to speak to detectives when it is not possible to speak face to face.

Meanwhile the local resolution team has taken on extra duties and, unlike a normal response officer on the beat, they can stay with victims for longer.

They will use patrol cars which have been set aside for police to respond to those in need.

Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland said there has been a drop in the number of reports of domestic abuse during the lockdown.

But typical cases the police are responding to are abuse and arguments over access to children between separated parents.

There have also been examples of victims using Clare’s Law where people can see if their partner has a previous conviction for abuse or violence to anyone in an old relationship.

Det Supt Rayland said: “We are concerned as we would have expected to see a rise in the period between March and now.

“The public may not be able to contact us. I would say that if anyone has concerns over friends, family members, or a neighbour, if they hear screaming or shouting from an address and think it might be domestic abuse, then please contact us.

“Our primary objective is to leave any victims feeling safer.”

He said an awareness campaign has been set up and will visit supermarkets to alert potential victims about ways to contact the police safely to get support.

Supermarkets remain open and can still be one of the few sites where people can get respite and feel confident enough to come forward, he said.

The resolution team officers are trained to give guidance to anyone who may be at risk.

Meanwhile Detective Inspector Chris Thompson said video conferencing is also a new way that people in distress can contact police and get help. He said officers watching can gather evidence and ask for further intervention if needed.

Det Supt Rayland said that prosecutions will continue, with police able to use powers such as Domestic Violence Protection Notices if needed.

He said: “Domestic abuse is still a priority for us. We will continue to respond and take robust action against those committing domestic abuse.”

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