Domestic violence in NSW in the wake of COVID-19: Update to December 2020

Release Date: 10:30am Thursday 3 June 2021

Link to report summary:-

New research confirms that reported domestic violence assaults largely remained stable in NSW in 2020.  This is despite various mobility restrictions imposed on the community in response to the COVID pandemic. 

A new report by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) examines trends in domestic violence in the year 2020, and how this relates to the NSW response to COVID-19. The study builds on previous work considering data up to April 2020. The new study extends the time series to December 2020; applies a more rigorous methodology and expands the data considered to include trends in non-criminal domestic episodes recorded by the NSW Police Force. 

BOCSAR found no compelling evidence of an increase in domestic violence assaults reported to NSW Police coinciding with the introduction of strict social isolation requirements, or as restrictions eased up to December 2020.  Once pre-existing trends and seasonally were accounted for, the number of monthly incidents of domestic assaults was largely within expectations. There is also no evidence of a delay in the reporting of domestic assault incidents to police during the period that stay-at-home orders were in place. 

There is evidence, however, to support an increase in non-criminal domestic arguments and disturbances attended by police from the time restrictions were introduced in late March through to mid-July. Most of these incidents are classified as verbal argument.  Numbers returned to usual from mid-July onwards.

Commenting on the findings, the Executive Director of BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald said that despite there being no clear evidence of an overall increase in domestic violence related assaults associated with the COVID restriction, the prevalence of domestic violence within the community remains high and has lasting effects on victims and their families. “The increase in police attendance to domestic arguments and disturbances following the introduction social isolation restrictions reflects the additional pressures placed on families during this period.  This is a concern given the strong association between emotional abuse and physical violence.”

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Copies of the report: