Domestic abuse rise in Essex ‘shows more people are coming forward’

Domestic abuse on the rise in Essex.

Domestic abuse on the rise in Essex. - Credit: PA

Reassurance is being given to Essex residents about a rise in the number of domestic abuse cases in the county.

Figures provided to the Police and Crime Panel reveal there were 7,329 cases between April and June this year, the first quarter of 2014/15.

In each month there was a rise on the average number of cases from the past three years.

There has also been an increase in the number of high risk incidents, with 610 in the first three months of the reporting year – again each month having at least 50 more than the average for the past three years.

The report into Hidden Harm, due to be debated by the panel next week, says the increase is down to better recording of crimes by officers and more victims coming forward rather than a jump in the actual level of abuse.

Nick Alston, the police and crime commissioner for Essex, was unavailable for comment yesterday. However he has in the past recognised the figures will continue to rise for those reasons.

Domestic abuse is the only specific crime type in Mr Alston’s police and crime plan.

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The report states with regard to hate crime: “A recorded increase in the number of hate crimes and incidents is recognised as a positive indicator that there is increased awareness of this subject and increasing confidence in the police.”

A similar comment is made in relation to serious sexual crime.

The report adds that between April and August 2014 40% of reported rape and serious sexual crime was historical.

To tackle the perpetrators of domestic abuse Essex Police relaunched Operation Shield at the beginning of June to target those at most risk of causing serious harm, while dedicated domestic abuse teams began work across the county from September 1 following a trial in south Essex.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid which has member refuges in north Essex, said: “It’s hard to know what the police reporting figures tell us about domestic violence rates, except what we already know – they are far too high.

“We urge Essex Police to implement the recommendations of the recent HMIC report to introduce specialist-led training at every level of an officer’s career, and ensure information is shared appropriately.

“Until every force creates a culture change which encourages officers to identify and support women experiencing domestic violence, women will be reasonably reluctant to contact the police and lives will be lost.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Essex Police has invested heavily in investigating domestic abuse with a programme focusing on continually improving the support we give to victims and in turn encouraging victims to come forward.

“Such investment in dedicated, trained Domestic Abuse units and a publicity campaign in partnership with Essex County Council has contributed to encouraging victims to report these types of crime.”

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