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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Abuse victims urged not to suffer in silence

DOMESTIC abuse victims are being urged to break their silence, in light of figures obtained by the Evening Mail.

By Ian Dunstan

A freedom of information request revealed that from March 2010 to December 2011, police were alerted to 2,362 domestic incidents in Barrow, Ulverston and Millom.

Not all call-outs resulted in a crime being registered.

During the same time period, police logged 543 crimes in Barrow and 40 in Ulverston.

But only 22 per cent of those crimes ended in prosecutions in both areas.

In Millom there were 29 crimes, of which 31 per cent ended in prosecutions.

Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi, of Cumbria police, said the low prosecution-to-crime rate was a result of some cases not being pursued on the request of the victim.

He said: “Unfortunately, many of the incidents or crimes that are reported to us do not result in prosecution.

“Police try to respect the wishes of victims as much as possible and this sometimes results in cases not being prosecuted.

“There are also occasions when victims feel uncomfortable or unable to go to court, however specialist officers work closely with them to help and support them to give their evidence.

“Despite not all cases resulting in successful prosecutions, we would urge anybody experiencing domestic violence to contact the police or any other partner agency who work with victims of such crimes so that they can receive help.”

Home Office estimates suggest the number of domestic abuse incidents in Cumbria would have been significantly higher than figures suggest.

And Rebecca Rawlings, a member of the Domestic Violence Champions Network in South Cumbria, encouraged victims of domestic abuse to come forward in confidence.

She said: “Domestic violence is dramatically underreported.

“We want to encourage people to report it, through the champions network.

“Historically it wasn’t something that people thought the police were interested in, what happened behind closed doors stayed there.

“But times have changed and there have been lots of changes in strategy on a national level, which has been taken up at county level in Cumbria.”

There are 35 Domestic Violence Champions in South Cumbria, who are trained to recognise the signs of domestic violence and advise victims as to the right services.

Ms Rawlings said: “The figure that we want to go down is the number of repeat victims. On average a woman has suffered between 35 and 37 incidents of domestic violence before she reports it.

“We’re happy to see the rise in reported incidents recently because we know there are a lot more incidents than we know about.”

DCI Qazi added: “Cumbria Constabulary takes domestic violence extremely seriously. Everybody has the right to live without the fear of violence or emotional abuse and police work hard with partner agencies to support victims and give them the confidence to speak up and ask for help.

“Dedicated teams target domestic violence perpetrators through intelligence led operations that run consistently throughout the year. Specially trained officers are posted all around the county to respond to incidents of domestic violence and wear fitted head cams wherever possible to ensure that evidence is gathered at the earliest opportunity.”

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