THERE are 44,000 victims of domestic abuse in Essex, figures reveal.

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And according to Essex County Council (ECC) the cost to the public sector is £86million a year.

The figures have been included in a report ahead of a meeting of the local authority’s Children and Young People Committee today.

Members will discuss the progress of ongoing plans introduced to reduce domestic abuse across the county.

Ray Gooding, cabinet member responsible for children’s services described the figures as “horrific” but said the council was working to join-up public agencies and investing in preventative measures to tackle the issue.

The report also reveals that police in Essex respond to around 32,000 incidents each year.

He said: “The figures are pretty horrific. This issue has been around for quite a time. There is a relatively low number that get reported - not much more than half of all incidents - so a lot of people who suffer do it in silence. “Usually it takes about 30 incidents of violence before people make any sort of complaint which is really dreadful.”

He said the costs of dealing with domestic abuse reach far and wide, such as when a victim needs to move away from their abusive partner and applies to their local council for new accommodation, or the impact on a child’s behaviour at school.

“When you add together the costs of the impact of these you get a real sense of the problem,” he said.

“A lot of the work is around how it is being dealt with. There are 80 different organisations that give support and advice to victims and we’re trying to make sure they don’t work in isolation. So when the police turn-up to deal with an incident and a form is filled in then filed, it’s passed on to social services.

“We are trying to make sure we register that information and then go and help that family get out of that situation rather than just reacting to it.”

The report also sets out early intervention measures specifically for young people and plans for a multi-agency hub to build on Essex Police’s Central Referral Unit which will specialise in domestic abuse.

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