Author Karen Freeman
Published April 2020
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 145
Subject Domestic violence; Socioeconomic factors and crime
Keywords Domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, social isolation, social distancing, Covid-19, Coronavirus



To monitor changes in the incidence of domestic violence in NSW in light of the unprecedented societal changes in response to the global pandemic COVID-19.


Police recorded crime data for March 2020 shows no evidence of an increase in domestic violence since social distancing was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures commenced in NSW in mid-March 2020. Recorded incidents of DV-related assault for the month of March 2020 are equivalent with those for March 2019 (2,678 recorded DV-related assaults in March 2020 versus 2,632 in March 2019).

It is possible the figures are stable because isolation strategies have affected the willingness or ability of people experiencing domestic violence to seek assistance from police. Were this to be the case, we would still expect the most serious forms of physical domestic violence (ie. murder and assault resulting in grievous bodily harm) to come to police attention as these offences are not sensitive to discretionary reporting. Trends for the most serious DV offences mirror those for DV-related assault generally in that the incidence in March 2020 is comparable to that of the previous year.

Domestic violence may yet increase in response to social isolation measures but we have not seen an impact in the first month of operation. We will continue to monitor this data over time.