Domestic violence cases soar in Suffolk

DOMESTIC violence cases reported to authorities in Suffolk have almost doubled in the last year, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.New figures show that cases jumped from 2,433 in 2002/3 to 4,800 in 2003/4 – an increase of 97%.

DOMESTIC violence cases reported to authorities in Suffolk have almost doubled in the last year, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.

New figures show that cases jumped from 2,433 in 2002/3 to 4,800 in 2003/4 – an increase of 97%.

Last night, a senior official said people should not be "frightened" of the figures, saying they showed more victims now felt able to come forward to report abuse.

Peter Monk, Suffolk County Council deputy leader, reveals the figures in a report which he will present to the authority next week.

Mr Monk, the council's portfolio holder for public protection, told the EADT he felt the huge leap stemmed largely from the fact that more victims were coming forward.

And he said that cracking down on domestic violence, for so long stigmatised and hidden behind closed doors, was now one of the main priorities for both police and councils in the region.

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"We must not be frightened by the figures," Mr Monk added. "What would be frightening is if we could not deal with the problem.

"If we had low figures but a hidden problem then that would be disastrous. Obviously, I'd like to have a figure of zero but I'm realistic.

"As we go through this process we may well see a rise in the number of cases as people come forward.

"We are not surprised about this increase – what it shows is that people are actually coming forward, whereas before they did not."

Mr Monk stressed that great strides had been made in offering help, support and advice to victims of domestic violence in the county.

And he highlighted both the first ever regional conference on the matter, along with a new Home Office-funded website, as evidence of the progress being made.

"It's something that can place whole families at risk," he added. "It's a hidden crime that's been going on for a long time – and we've got to protect the vulnerable.

"What we are trying to do is to use all the mediums at our disposal to get information to people.

"We want to give people as many options as possible to get information and help them realise that they're not alone. It's all part of making people's lives better."

Mr Monk also urged victims of domestic violence to come forward, reassuring them that help was at hand.

"There's been an enormous stigma attached to domestic violence," he said. "People have felt that they've failed in their relationships and the way they managed themselves – of course, it's not a failure.

"The only failure is if people don't come forward, and our message to them is that you can. The first thing I would say to people who are suffering is that there's plenty of information available – that is the first step.

"Do not be afraid in coming forward. Do not sit back and let it happen – there are people who can help you."

For more information about help available to victims of domestic violence, visit www.safersuffolk.org.uk, or call victim support on 0845 3030900.

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