Cases of domestic violence in London rose sharply during the coronavirus lockdown of March 2020. This is suggested by an index, newly calculated by the ifo Institute, based on searches for certain terms on the internet. “This index shows an increase in cases of domestic violence that is seven times higher than that recorded by police statistics,” says Helmut Rainer, Director of the ifo Center for Labor and Demographic Economics. “Data from Los Angeles presented a similar picture. It looks as though official crime statistics aren’t revealing the full extent of the problem. Many types of crises—be it the current pandemic, severe economic downturns, or natural disasters—carry the risk of increasing domestic violence. However, conventional data sources have severe limitations in this respect.”
Women’s support groups and domestic violence counseling centers reported increases of between 25 and 80 percent worldwide. The ifo figures for London suggest a 40 percent increase. The researchers suspect that lockdowns and self‑isolation in the pandemic severely limited the ability of domestic violence victims to take police action against the perpetrators.
The new index is based on 35 search terms related to domestic violence. When looking at the period from April 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019 – before the pandemic – researchers found a high correlation with official crime statistics. But after the coronavirus lockdown, domestic violence search numbers in London rose much faster than the number of reports filed with police there.