Everyone has to be alert to domestic violence

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Almost 29,000 incidents a year – so getting on for 2,500 a month, which in turn comes in at more than 80 every day.

Whichever way you slice up the figures on domestic violence in Hampshire, it’s a shocking total.

Every report will contain a punch, a slap or a kick and most will have followed the same chilling arc as that related by ‘Sarah’ in our Agenda today.

It starts as controlling, manipulative verbal abuse, and escalates to threats of violence and actual attacks. And the tragedy is that, despite numerous campaigns, the figures are getting worse – the totals are rising and the number of victims is growing, even in the context of most other crime totals dropping.

So it’s good to see that on a local and national level, this is a crime that’s concentrating minds.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has said that it’s ‘rightly at the top of the police agenda’, and Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes has, since he was elected, been explicit about making it one of his priorities, and recently visited the Southern Domestic Abuse Service – what used to be called Havant Women’s Aid.

So we know that police are keen to take action, and that many groups – as listed on page 9 – are there to help. So the key to this subject must be in the reporting, and we are deeply grateful to Sarah for telling her story.

It takes on average about 35 incidents before the victim of domestic violence approaches the police, and great efforts must be made to reduce this figure. Nobody doubts how difficult it must be to be in that situation, but the message must be that seeking help is not a form of weakness.

And on that subject, there is a duty on all of us to be alert to the issue. Some of these 29,000 incidents will be taking place down our roads, in our streets.

If you hear what sounds like a fight taking place next-door, don’t just treat it as nuisance neighbours. Approach the police and let them know. They don’t always have to have the victim’s consent to prosecute, and we need to make this process as easy as possible, and we all need to play any part we can.